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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.


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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  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,


  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.



  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.



  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.



  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.



  7. Mercedes says:


    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?


    • 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,


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