Navigating the Social Security disability process is difficult. The first step is to determine whether or not you are eligible for benefits. This article will talk about the non-medical requirements for disability; of course, in order to begin receiving benefits, you must also be considered “disabled” per Social Security’s rules and regulations.
There are two main types of federal disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI); and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Eligibility for SSDI is simple to determine. A good rule of thumb is that you are eligible if you have paid payroll taxes for the last 5-10 years.
Each individual is entitled to a different benefit amount according to the taxes paid. To find out the specific dollar amount you are entitled to, you can either:
- Call your local Social Security office; or
- Obtain your “Earnings Statement” online by doing the following:
- Go to www.ssa.gov
- Click “my Social Security”
- Follow the steps to create your account (a valid email address is required)
- Access your Earnings Statement
- In your Earnings Statement, there is a line item that states: “You have earned enough credits to qualify for benefits. If you become disabled right now your payment would be about $_____.” This is your SSDI disability amount.
SSI eligibility is determined based on income and resources. If you have not earned enough credits to qualify for SSDI, you may still be eligible for SSI disability benefits.
In general, to qualify for SSI, your “resources” must not be worth more than $2,000 for an individual, or $3,000 for a couple. This includes money in the bank, stocks, bonds, and retirement accounts.
Some items are not counted toward the income limit, such as:
- The house you live in;
- One vehicle;
- Burial plots; and
- Household goods and personal effects
To determine eligibility for SSI, it is best to speak with a professional to walk you through the oftentimes confusing rules and guideline.
Further, for SSI, citizenship requirements must be met. In California, if you do not meet the citizenship requirements for SSI, you may still be eligible for a form of disability from the state called the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI).
Here is a quick chart summarizing the differences between SSI and SSDI:
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