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 and verifying your living arrangements.

Living Arrangements
You must not be residing in a public institution, such as a jail or public hospital unless Medicaid is paying more than half of your care costs. See our article Can You Tell Me How to Apply for SSI Disability? for information about early application for disabled individuals who are near release from a public institution.

Your countable assets must be within the allowable limit. As of 2020, the limit of countable resources is $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple. If person applying for SSI disability is a minor child, the limit for the child’s parents is $2,000 for a single parent and $3,000 for two parents. Any excess is counted toward the child’s $2,000 limit. That said, many things that you own are not counted as resources when adding up countable resources and do not affect SSI eligibility. For more information about resources that do not affect your SSI eligibility, see our article When I Am Applying for SSI Disability, Which of My Assets are Counted Against the SSI Resource Limit?

If an SSI applicant is a noncitizen and has a sponsor in the U.S. the sponsor’s assets count as the SSI applicant’s. If an SSI recipient has been receiving SSI since January 1974 and has an Essential Person, the Essential Person’s assets count toward the SSI recipient’s resource limit.

If you qualify based on your medical condition, your living arrangement, your citizen or immigration status, and your resources, then you must pass the income test. Many types of income are excluded when totaling countable income. In 2020, to receive federal SSI benefits you must have total countable income of less than $803 monthly if you are an individual or less than $1,195 if you and your spouse who lives with you both qualify for SSI based either on disability or age. (Not all income is countable.) If you live in a state that supplements SSI, you may qualify for a state supplement even though your income is above the federal allowable amount.

The Next Step, Calculating Payment
If you meet the SSI eligibility requirements, including income, then the amount of your benefit is calculated based on the amount of your countable income, including in-kind and deemed income. Depending on your income, your monthly federal SSI payment could be any amount from $1 to the maximum benefit of $783 for an individual or $1,175 for an eligible couple. See our articles Why Will Social Security Ask about My Living Arrangements When I Am Applying for SSI Disability? and Why Do I Have to Give Information about My Family’s Income and Assets When I Apply for SSI Benefits? for more information about in-kind and deemed income.

Ongoing Eligibility
Your medical condition is reviewed from time to time to determine your ongoing SSI disability eligibility. While you continue to be disabled, your financial and living-arrangement eligibility is determined on a month-by-month basis. Reviews are done anytime your income, resources, or living arrangements change. Even if you don’t have a change, your financial eligibility will be reviewed approximately once a year. For information about changes you must report, see our article What Do I Have to Report to the Social Security Administration Once I Start to Get SSI Benefits?

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