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

By   /  March 3, 2016  /  184 Comments

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

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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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  • Published: 7 months ago on March 3, 2016
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  • Last Modified: March 4, 2016 @ 4:27 pm
  • Filed Under: SSI


  1. Amanda says:

    I have a few questions I was found disabled from chrons diease and depression .I’m also married with 3 kids and my husband makes about 850 a week and I don’t have many working credits will I get any kind of help Iv been told no ?I am fully disabled thou any help would be appreciated .

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Amanda,

      I suggest that you file a formal claim for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and submit your husband’s pay stubs. It is possible that you might be eligible for a small amount of SSI and Medicaid in the months he receives only four paychecks.


  2. Jennifer says:

    Hi. My son turned 18 August 26th. We have been receiving benefits since about 2009. Recently went in to renew, simply signing papers and providing income and I got a letter today saying he does not qualify due to lack of work credits in so many words. He has never worked. They know this. He has Aspergers and epi palsy in his left arm. I don’t know this whole process, but why would he not qualify suddenly. Nothing has changed. How can they base it off him never working when he is not capable of handling social settings? I’m confused and searching for answers. I just got the letter today.
    Calling tomorrow but it’s so frustrating. I have always been hopeful that once he turns 18 he will have benefits to help him if he is not able to handle a full time job after he graduates high school.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jennifer,

      Your son is probably being reassessed for disability Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits under adult criteria. The letter that was received, applies only to Social Security Disability. Also if (or when) one of his parents is receiving Social Security Disability or Retirement benefits or is deceased, your son can apply for Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB) on the parent’s earnings record.


    • Kirstin Edwards says:

      What happens when you are approved for ssi but your family qualifyso some months and others does not we get 6 checks a year in those months the checks range from 4,000 to ten thousand is it monthly or yearly income we have 5 children and yearly that breaks down to approximately 3300 a month but ,there are 6 months ago year we have no income

      • Kay Derochie says:

        Dear Kristin,

        Income counts as income in the month it is received; it is not averaged. This means in the months the money comes in, you are not eligible for SSI. I suggest inquiring whether Social Security can project your estimated income out in the correct months to avoid overpayments.

        Another consideration is that all the money that is carried over to the following month counts toward the SSI resource limit of $3,000 for a married couple. (If the SSI recipient is a child and the income is a parent’s, the excess over $3,000 counts toward the child’s $2,000 SSI limit.) It would appear that some months following receipt, the person will not be eligible for SSI because funds in excess of the resource limit will be available for the family’s support in months following the month of receipt.


  3. Yanika says:

    Hi I am 26 yrs old and I applied for SSI benefits about 3 months ago for heart conditions. I was born with a heart murmur and had open heart surgery at age 2 to close a hole in my heart. Also I had my daughter in 2014 and got sick a week after I had her with post partum cardiomyopathy. I was diagnosed with postpartum cardiomyopathy and right side heart failure as well as congestive heart failure. I was working on and off and finally had to stop when I got pregnant. I deal with fluid build up and chest pains often. Ive been reading online about the guidelines for being approved for ssi with heart conditions and its tough. I’m young and I’m not confident that I will receive any. I don’t work I have my daughter, my mom had been helping me, moved in with her and she is receiving SSI for her arthritis so its only so much she can do. My question is what is my best bet on being approved for SSI right now? Any advice is good advice. Also I have been dealing with depression and anxiety because of my situation and I was hospitalized due to it. Just looking for clarification and realistic advice thanks.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Yanika,

      I suggest that you contact the Disability Determination Services (DDS) and talk with the examiner to find out what records and physician’s statement have been requested and which have been received. If important records related both to your cardiac condition and your mental health have not been requested or requested and not received, follow up with the providers who have not responded and try to gather tests, evaluations, and other important medical records to submit. Let the examiner know you are going to do this. Also be sure your cardiologist and psychiatrist know you have applied for disability. See if they will make a supporting statement. If you are ill enough that you are getting help caring for your baby or doing other activities of daily living such as cleaning, cooking, and grocery shopping, have your mother or others who have direct knowledge of this make statements about what they are doing because you can’t.


  4. Dawn Huddleston says:

    Hi Kay,
    I am the representative payee for my disabled son and I currently owe child support for his half sibling. I received an income deduction letter and i am not employed. Can the department of revenuerevenue child support enforcement deduct what I owe from my son’s ssi benefits? Once again I am only the representative payee, my son is disabled and the one that is receiving the benefit.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Dawn,

      Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cannot be garnished for child support. Social Security benefits can be garnished for child support, but the benefits of someone for whom you are payee cannot be garnished for child support or taxes that you owe. Note: the IRS levies taxes; usually an agency of lyour state garnishes for child support–not the IRS, which is a federal agency. Be sure that you are clear on what agency or department is garnishing and which sent the letter (the state, the IRS, or the Social Security Administration. I suggest that you then follow the instructions in the letter that tell you how to disagree with the levy (garnishment). Keep a copy of the letter you send. I would also call the IRS to let them know that the letter is coming and to ask that no levy action be taken.


  5. Papo says:

    Would like to know if even though I don’t qualify for SSI payments and am going to receive my 17 – 5 + 11 SSDI back payments. Am I also entitled to backpay for SSI as well? Confused because my Social security rep. told me that I don’t qualify for SSI. I received my confirmation letter stating the total of the SSDI back payments and then another letter stating back payments as well for SSI with no future SSI payments involved. Yet my pay date was changed from the 2nd Wednesday of the month (the 10th), day for which SSDI payments are usually received, to the 3rd day of the following month, day reserved for SSI payments. The SSDI BP is 8 times larger then the SSI BP. Really stressed and confused right now.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Papo,

      First a couple clarifications. Unless the first is a holiday or weekend, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are paid on the first of the month. Social Security benefits are paid the third of the month or the second, third, or fourth Wednesday of the month.

      It is possible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) back pay and not be eligible for SSI ongoing. To be completely ineligible for SSI, you would have to have had income or assets that made you ineligible at the time you applied up until your actually received the first Social Security. The fact that you received an SSI letter that quoted benefits payable, it’s likely you are eligible for both for a limited period of time.

      If you are eligible for both, the SSI back pay will be paid first and the Social Security back pay quoted in the letter will be reduced by the amount of SSI back benefits paid for the same months. (This can be beneficial because SSI is not taxable and part or all of Social Security can be depending on family income.)


  6. Alana says:

    My 23 year old son was going to college, but in January 2016 he was hospitalized due to suicidal thoughts and psychosis. He has been diagnosed as possible schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and substance abuse disorder. He was hospitalized for 2 weeks, then went to I/O treatment for a month. He attempted to work at a part-time job, but had to quit due to lack of energy and poor performance. He is now working at his father’s company and this is going a little bit better. He also just finished a second round of outpatient substance abuse treatment. There are clear mental health issues, and his recovery continues as we look for a good therapist and support from community services. We are in a very uncertain time, not knowing if at some point he could get very solid traction and be able to support himself. OR, if it will either continue to wax and wane (in terms of his ability to work), or possibly fall apart all together. Question: What is your best advice regarding his situation, age, etc. and what to do in terms of being best able to take advantage of any benefits? He has not done anything at this point in terms of applying for benefits, etc. We are all hoping that won’t be necessary, but on the other hand don’t want to miss a window of opportunity that may become essential in the future. Thank you!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Alana,

      If your son is currently working AND EARNING $1,130 gross per month or more, he is performing Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) and is not eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD/SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. I emphasize “earning” because your son’s working for his father raises the question of whether he is performing the job in a satisfactory manner without any significant accommodations. If he is performing (SGA) without subsidy now and becomes unable to in the future, he can apply for SSD and/or SSI at that time.

      If your son is earning less that $1,130 and/or is not really fully earning his wages or he has to stop work for psychiatric reasons before he has worked for his father for six months, he could apply for benefits based on mental illness stating that he left both jobs in 2016 due to his health and that the two jobs were unsuccessful work attempts. Note that he must qualify based on mental illness because no Social Security or SSI benefits are payable for disability caused by substance abuse.


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