Salem disability attorneys explain SSI eligibility requirements
If you are unable to work because of a mental or physical impairment, but you have not worked long enough or recently enough to qualify for Oregon Social Security disability insurance benefits (generally, 40 quarters of work and disability beginning within 5 years of the qualifying work), you may be entitled to receive disability benefits under the federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The SSI program is a federal welfare program; disability benefits are paid out of general revenues. Oregon Social Security disability insurance benefits, by comparison, are paid out of the Social Security trust fund. Money is deducted out of almost every worker’s paycheck, and part of that money pays for Social Security disability insurance. The federal SSI benefit is supplemented by many states, so the actual benefit amount paid varies from state to state.
SSI eligibility criteria
In order to receive SSI benefits, you must file an application that demonstrates (1) you have U.S. citizenship (with limited exceptions), and (2) you meet the following criteria:
- You are “disabled” as that term is defined in the Social Security regulations.
- You have limited assets.
- You have limited income.
The SSI asset limitation is $3,000 for a couple and $2,000 for an individual. A number of assets are excluded from this calculation. For example, if you own a home of any value, that asset is excluded. If you own a car of any value that is used for work or to obtain medical care, that asset also is excluded.
The income limit is based on the monthly SSI benefit amount. Thus, you are not eligible to receive SSI benefits if your monthly countable income is more than the SSI benefit amount. In addition, the more countable income you have, the less your SSI benefit will be. The formula for determining your countable income excludes several different types of unearned income and part of your earned income. For example, the following are excluded from countable income:
- The first $65 of monthly wages and one-half of monthly wages in excess of $65;
- The first $20 of income besides wages received in a month;
- Grants and scholarships for educational expenses;
- The monthly amount received for food stamps; and
- State and local government assistance.
We can help you navigate the Social Security maze
As you can see from this brief overview of SSI eligibility requirements, this area of Oregon disability law is complicated. If your claim for Oregon SSI benefits was denied, let us put our knowledge and experience to work for you. If you would like us to review your case, please use the form at the top to give us a brief description of your situation, or call our office or send us an email.