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What requirements do I have to meet for SSI Disability eligibility?

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Acquaint yourself with the various SSI Disability eligibility requirements you must meet to qualify for SSI benefits.

ssi-disability-eligibility

Factors That Govern SSI Disability Eligibility

In addition to either being age sixty-five or meeting the SSI Disability eligibility text, which is discussed in “What Medical Conditions Are Required to Meet SSI Disability Qualifications and to Get an SSI Approval?” you have to meet several non-medical and non-age requirements to get SSI.

Citizenship and Alien Status

You must be either a U.S. citizen or national or a qualified noncitizen. A qualified noncitizen is a person who is in an immigration status that allows payment of SSI and who meets other noncitizen requirements. For more information about SSI eligibility requirements for noncitizens, see our article “How Can a Noncitizen Go about Qualifying for SSI Disability?

U.S. Residency Required

With few exceptions, you must also be a resident of—that is live in—one of the fifty U.S. states or the North Mariana Islands. You will continue to be eligible for SSI if you are temporarily out of the United States and North Mariana Islands for less than less than thirty consecutive days. If you are gone for thirty days or more, you will not be considered in the U.S. for the residency test until you have been back in the U.S. for thirty consecutive days.

A child who is living with a parent who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces assigned to permanent shore duty outside the U.S. is an exception to the residency requirement. If you have an SSI-eligible child and receive orders to move overseas, contact your local Social Security office or call Social Security at 800-772-1213 before leaving the U.S. If you are already overseas and your think your child may be eligible for SSI, contact the U.S. Embassy or Consular Office or write to the Social Security Administration, Attn: SSI Military Children Overseas Coordinator, 1 Frederick Street, Suite 100, Cumberland Maryland 21502.

You have the same reporting responsibilities for your disabled child as for a child living in the U.S. Additionally, you must report if you leave the U.S. Armed Forces and remain abroad. A list of events to report can be found at “What Do I Have to Report to the Social Security Administration Once I Start to Get SSI Benefits?

Application Requirements

You must file an application; apply for other cash benefits to which you may be eligible, such as Social Security or Veteran’s Compensation; and give the Social Security Administration permission to verify financial factors of eligibility, including contacting financial institutions to obtain your financial records.

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50 Comments

  1. Danny says:

    Thank you for this website!

    I haven’t filed tax returns for several years partly due to my income being under the required threshold and partly due to a great loss of memory.
    Question #1: Do I have to get caught up on these filings prior to applying for or receiving SSI/SSDI?

    I’m 62 years old, had a stroke, broken legs, fractured spine, can’t walk and I’m clinically blind. I live alone and have no family. I’ve been selling personal belongings to get by for the last 3 years but that’s quickly coming to an end.

    Last year I had an appointment at the local Social Security office where the lady asked several questions about my employment history, income, past doctors, every illness & medication and injury I’ve ever had – none of which I could answer. She handed me a packet to fill out and another packet came in the mail a few days later.
    That packet asked the very same questions but with more detail. I tried to answer those questions too, but with no luck. I can’t remember who I worked for let alone the dates.

    I’ve worked self employed in the construction industry most all my life and have had several dozen regular employers too. I got flustered with all the questions and I think I threw the paperwork away. Then a denial came in the mail and I maybe tossed that too.

    Q#2: Does the SSA have my work history already?
    Q#3: Will you please point me in the right direction? Maybe someone or agency who can help piece my history together?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Danny,

      You have a few options open to you, but it sounds as if you could use some help in taking advantage of them. Many communities have senior assistance agencies who could help you file the appropriate applications. Start by contacting a state or county department of health and human services or a senior center. If you are legally blind, the Commission for the Blind in your state can probably help you with your application.

      Because you are not working, it could be to your advantage to apply for reduced retirement benefits now that you are are sixty-two. Hopefully, you have had enough employment over your lifetime working for others or in years that you did file self-employment tax returns to have enough work for retirement benefits. The paperwork for a retirement claim is less complicated than for disability and takes less time to process.

      You might also apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) which is paid at a higher rate than reduced Social Security Retirement but requires sufficient work earnings and credits in the ten years before your disability began. Social Security has your work history in sufficient detail to determine whether or not you have enough work credits. It does not have a record of the kinds of jobs you held and what those jobs required. When you apply for retirement, let Social Security know the date when you became disabled and they can tell you whether or not you are insured for SSD. At the same time you can apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which has no work history requirement.

      You could either engage an attorney to help you complete the disability paperwork or try to find a local senior agency to help you. You might also tell the Social Security claims representative that you are not able to complete the forms on your own and would like to have them help you complete them. Often, if a person sits down and talks about it, with a little prompting, he will remember more than he thinks he does. You might also talk with family or friends and get them to write down where you worked and what you did on the job. Lastly, you minimally need a list of the doctors and hospitals who are treating you know and, if possible, who treated since you became disabled.

      Best regards,

      Kay

  2. Randy says:

    Hi Kay,

    Is there any downside from applying to SSD? I have been on STD for 5 months now and benefits will end in one more month. I returned to work at partial time to rehabilitate myself, but it’s been a struggle to work. I wanted to avoid applying for LTD because I don’t know the long term consequences of being on LTD (future jobs, credit history, etc..) and whether taking SSD early on may affect future retirement benefits. Hopefully I will be able to go back to work full time within a year.

    Thank you

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Randy,

      If you expect to be disabled or partially disabled for less than a year, you will not qualify for Social Security Disability (SSDI). However, if you were to be eligible for SSDI, it would not have a negative effect on your Social Security retirement benefit. Until you know how long you will be off, I encourage you to apply for long-term disability (LTD) if you qualify. There is no reason I can see that it would have a negative effect on credit history nor any reason why it would have any more negative effect on future employment than receiving short-term disability. Having said all that, I suggest that you talk with your human resource or benefits department to find out whether stopping work again will have any effect on your current employment status and medical insurance.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  3. Danny says:

    Thanks Kay

  4. Gary says:

    Hi,I recently started receiving SSDI from a work related injury I received in Nov.of 2012.
    Because it was work related, my SSDI was cut from about 1350 a month to 850 per month,plus 456 weekly from workmanship Comp.
    My question is how much per month(if any) is my dependent daughter legible to receive? Thank you

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Gary,

      If your family maximum is high enough, your daughter’s unreduced benefit would be half of your unreduced benefit, that is, $675. However, usually workers comp offset is applied first to dependents Social Security benefits. Therefore, when her benefits start the $456 offset may be applied to her benefit in the future instead of yours.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  5. Travis says:

    I receive SSI and I live with my father is on Disability… If he gets remarried will my SSI change?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Travis,

      If you are age eighteen or older, your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will not change because your father gets married. If you are under age eighteen, your new stepmother’s income and assets have to be considered in determining your eligibility and the marriage should be reported to Social Security.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  6. secnarf says:

    I get a check because my husband get disability . Well I also get back pay

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Secnarf,

      If you are eligible on your husband’s record, you will be eligible for benefits for the same months he is eligible including past months.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  7. Mercedes says:

    Hi,

    I need help. I was on disability for about 2 years on March 2010 I went back to work and have been working since but I had to leave my first job because it was to straining. I went through the trial work period and continued working. In 2012, I discovered a condition in my back that can only get better with surgery but it is not positive that I would. I also have lymphedema and am over weight which makes the back surgery harder and can cause complications I do not want. My condition is lymphedema and will never get better can just get treatment through therapy to learn to live with it. (that’s what got me on disability, extreme swelling of the legs.) Now the last year and a half I’ve been doing private duty care but my back is getting worse. There are days I do can not get out of bed because of the pain. I recently got a letter saying that since I’ve been working since 2010 I am no longer disabled by there terms. The thing is it is getting harder each day and will need to get on disability soon. How hard will it be for me to get approved and since I was on disability before can I receive a check rather rapidly or will I have to wait again? Is there a way to speed up the process and how should I go about it?

    Thanks,
    Mercedes

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Mercedes,

      You exhausted all the work incentives under your prior claim and your claim has been closed, as the letter you received indicated. This means that you will have to file a new claim and have a new disability review. If your condition has not improved and if you are not performing substantial gainful activity, which in part means not earnings $1,070 gross wages or net self-employment income, your claim is likely to be approved. The processing will not be expedited and you will have a new five-month unpaid waiting period before benefits start.

      Best regards,

      Kay

  8. Renee Villano says:

    Hi I have been on ssd since 2008 due to renal disease and I also get a check for my daughter under me but she is autistic and I guess when she turns 18 she will get her own now my husband has had 5 heart attacks and now just got diagnosed with lung cancer I don’t know what to do can he get emergency disablity but if he leaves his job he will lose his medical benefits and life insurance policy and if he quits doesn’t he have to wait to get approved and the wait 2 year’s for the Medicare so how can he keep working with all these horrible diagnoses

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Renee,

      Three months before your daughter turns eighteen, if she is unmarried, she can apply for disabled adult child benefits on your Social Security earnings record (and on her father’s if he is receiving disability benefits at that time.)

      As far as your husband’s situation goes, perhaps he can go on a medical leave of absence which would allow continuation of medical benefits and life insurance. When his benefits terminate, he will have the right to either continue his benefits under COBRA (if his employer is large enough to be subject to that law). He would have to pay the premiums which are quite high. Another option would be to apply for insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as Obamacare. This must be done right after the other health insurance ends. The government will subsidize payment of premiums under the ACA if your income is low enough, which it might be when your husband stops working. Also, he should check to see if he is covered under a short-term or long-term disability policy through his employer that might cover some or all of the first five months he is off work during which Social Security is not payable.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

      Sin

  9. Michelle says:

    Hi
    My husband just exhausted his SDI benefits following two knee replacement surgeries, and a rotator cuff repair, all done within one year. Would he be eligible for SDI benefits again in the future if he had a different claim, and how long would he need to wait if so? If he returned to work part time would that hamper near future efforts to get SSI?
    Thanks

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Michelle,

      If your husband has been off work for a full twelve months, he can apply for a closed period of disability even if he goes back to work full time. If he receives Social Security Disability (SSDI) and returns to work part-time after being off work for a year, he might qualify for a trial work period during which SSDI disability benefits would continue. SSI (Supplemental Security Income) has some different rules about return to work in that there are income limits to receive SSI. I suggest that your husband contact California SDI office for specifics on how long he has to be back to work to be eligible for a new period of disability.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  10. Charles says:

    I been on Supplemental Security Income for twenty years can I apply for Social Security Disability?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Charles,

      If you have not worked in the past twenty years, you are not insured for Social Security Disability. When you reach retirement age, you can apply for Social Security Retirement. If you have enough work credits from before becoming disabled you may be eligible.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  11. Mike says:

    I have a friend who is on SSI and receives a small retirement sum from a deceased husband . She is now 68 years old and received a letter from Social Security to determine if she is still eligible for SSI, I know that SSDI reverts to retirement benefits when a person hits full retirement age. Does SSI revert to retirement benefits too or does it change to something else when full retirement age is reached ? She has never worked due to a seizure disorder.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Mike,

      Supplemental Security Income (SSI) does not change when an individual reaches full retirement age unless full retirement age results in the receipt of increased or new income.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  12. TJ says:

    I an 60. I had to quit work to be a fulltime caregiver for my spouse, a veteran, who became disabled due to lyme disease. His symptoms are much like agent orange disease, however we have not filed a claim with the va in fear of complicating his ssdi. He has been sick for about 20 years. I am having severe back problems and now fear I may need some financial help if my spouse passes away. He is 65.
    Who should I contact about possible disability for myself or should I look into caregiver income of some kind? I worked for 25yrs before having to quit, but do not have any pension. We’re in Oregon.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear TJ,

      If your husband is receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI), at age sixty-two, you can receive reduced wife’s benefits. If he passes away, you are now old enough to be eligible for reduced widow’s benefits. You do not say how long ago you stopped working. If you worked enough in the last ten years and believe that you would not be able to work even if you were not caring for your husband than it would be appropriate to apply for SSDI for yourself. You might not qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability if your husband’s SSDI is substantial.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  13. Robert says:

    Hi Kay,

    I am a disable vet at 30% requesting additional compensation since it had gotten worse I am currently being treated/tests for my Hip/femur at the VA Hospital. I just filed SSD at 49 yrs old (worked my 31 yrs) they will accessed all my medical records which proves my chronic condition. What are my chances getting approved? They want to do a hip replacement which I am very frightened since I have been under the knife in the past. I remember I have 1500 appx on SS Statement online what will my two kids get ? $2250 150% ?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Robert,

      To learn the amount that your children will receive, you need to know the amount of your family maximum. The largest family maximum for high earners is 180% of the primary insurance amount. Your family maximum is likely to be 150% or less. If it is 150%, you will receive $1,500 and the total the children will receive for both (not each) is $750. You can request an earnings statement (not a benefit statement) online at http://www.ssa.gov or by calling 1-800-772-1213. It will give you an estimated amount of your family maximum.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

      • Robert says:

        Morning Kay,

        I learned by last statement was at $1500 if I retired but since I applied for SSDI it does not show the amount at all. I already called I guess i will wait. But my other question since I am a disable Vet will that work in my favor in a expedited processing ? Thank you.

        By the way you have no idea how people feel appreciative of your responses with compassion and precise answers.

        Thank you, again. I read all your posts. :)

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Robert,

          I am glad that I can be of service.

          If the $1,500 retirement-benefit quote is the amount you will receive at full retirement age, then it is also the approximate amount you will receive if you are approved for Social Security Disability. Vets who are recently disabled and are returning from combat are eligible for expedited processing. I am not sure special processing is available for other vets. It is certainly worth checking with Social Security to see if your claim qualifies to be expedited.

          Sincerely,

          Kay

  14. Robin says:

    I have applied for SSDI, as well as SSI. Do you know which one will be approved first?

    Thank you,

    Robin

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Robin,

      The medical decision will be made for both the SSDI and SSI claims at the same time. Usually SSI is paid first.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  15. sue kaeske says:

    Is there such a thing as a survivor benefit for the wife of a disabled person after his death, when she is 59 years old?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Sue,

      Widow’s benefits based on age begin at age sixty. At that age benefits are reduced. Full widow’s benefits are available at full retirement age. Disabled widow’s benefits that are reduced more than those based on age and can potentially begin at age fifty. Lastly, if the widow has in her care a child of the disabled worker and the child is under age sixteen, mother’s benefits are payable.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  16. tiffany maltsberger says:

    I have applied for ssi for.my six year old daughter she has been diagnosed with adhd and intellectual functioning and a sever learning disability. The school says she is two years behind emationaly and in.school. they have her in sse classes and is having totores in class. She is being treated for adhd and was diagnosed three mounths ago but she is two years behind.I was wandering if she can get up teo years back or from when I applied and was wandering if my case is strong. Her iq score is 73. She also has a speach disprder as well. Just wanting to know what my daughter may get back. Thank you

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Tiffany,

      Your daughter may be approved for SSI If she is, her benefits will begin the month after you applied, unless you applied on the first of the month in which case benefits will begin with the month of application.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  17. ryan ash says:

    Hi I’m Ryan ash I was wondering about . I’m 21 years old and my fiancee is 19 if we got married Wats happens if I tell social security??? And she get ssi and ssa and wat about we have a child does our income increase or what happens

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Ryan,

      If you and your fiancee, who receives Social Security (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), get married, your income will be considered in determining whether she continues to be eligible for SSI. If you and she has a child and her Social Security family maximum is higher than her Social Security benefit, dependents benefits will be payable for the child. Your financee can learn the amount of her family maximum by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  18. william faust says:

    hi there. I currently receive ssd. I get 905.00 a month, which after rent, utilities, and food, leaves nothing else. am I eligible for ssi? my son, 11 years old, receives a monthly check at 260.00 a month, his mother is the payee and uses it to pay for his aftercare. he has been diagnosed with adhd and mild autism, is he eligible for anything? we are divorced and he spends equal time with both of us.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear William,

      You might look into SNAP (food stamp) benefits for yourself. If you son is disabled, his mother can apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for him. She will have to explain the split living arrangement and the Social Security Administration (SSA) will determine which parent’s income is to be considered in determining financial eligibility for SSI, which has income and asset limits.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  19. Kathy Goedde says:

    Sorry, I’ve been cut off again. Any advice?

  20. Kathy Goedde says:

    Any responses that you had has been removed as well. Again, there is no way to sue anyone these days, so the hospitals are getting off Scott free. This heinous assault happened 9 years ago, so I still can’t get a job. Without a job I can’t get unemployment. I don’t qualify for ssdi, I don’t the have the money for more half witted doctors anyway, who are still trying to take my home for that assault. My teeth are almost gone and very painful and 9 discs were damaged because of the unnecessary and over medicated with Forsamax in the hospital.
    I’ve gone through governmental agency to agency and they take more money for no decent employment. I’m so very sorry for your website, now you know why the labeled disabled need someone who cares about decent employment not more fraud.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Kathy,

      Your posts and my answers can be found under the articles where you posted each of your comments. (You have posted under three different articles.)

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  21. tyson says:

    It’s been 60 days I still have not received my award letter I keep calling the social security office they say still pending how much longer you think it will be my lawyer said I won full benefits just waiting for my letter?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Tyson,

      The guideline for the judge’s decision is sixty days but it often takes longer. You can call the hearing office to find out where the appeal is in the process–with the judge for a decision or in letter writing.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  22. tyson says:

    And I applied for disability I worked also so will I get social security disability or ssi I have kids so will they get a check nd I pay child.support will they.deduct from my check?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Tyson,

      Please see my reply to your previous inquiries. If your children get Social Security dependent benefits, you may be able to go to court and get your child support order reduced.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  23. Kira says:

    My daughter is 3.5 and she gets SSI for several reason (cp, epilepsy, perventricular leukomacia, cerebral folate deficiency, asthma, g-tube, calcium deficiency). I do not work because its hard to find employment that will accommodate me taking off to take my daughter to 6 therapy appointments aweek in addition to doc appointments, so I was thinking about gettibg a roomate to offset rent but unsure how that will effect her ssi. Are there any additiobal resources, we currently get SNAP.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Kira,

      If your roommate pays only a third of the rent and utilities, it will not affect your daughter’s SSI. The roommate could also buy non-shelter supplies for the household such as paper and soap products and it would not affect the SSI check. Some areas have non-profits that offer energy assistance to pay heating bills. You could apply to get on a waiting list for government-subsidized housing. You might also check to see if your state pays relatives to care for disabled family members.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

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