Supplemental Security Income—known as SSI— is a benefits program for disabled Americans with no income or a very low income. Under SSI regulations your family earnings and assets can affect your benefits. Social Security will count your spouse’s income as your income as well. Social Security may reduce your monthly payment or maybe even deny you any benefits.
The other disability benefits program, Social Security Disability Insurance—known as SSDI—is based on your employment history, so your income or resources do not have any impact on the amount of benefits you may receive under SSDI.
With SSI if you are found to be disabled, you are eligible for monthly benefits only if your countable resources do not exceed two thousand dollars for an individual, or three thousand dollars for a couple if both members are eligible for SSI. Countable resources include income, cash, and items you own that could be used for food or housing if converted to cash.
Many items are exempt, and are not counted toward the SSI resource limit even though they might be valuable. For example, a house you own and live in will not usually be considered a countable resource under the rules governing SSI payments. However, a home you own but are not living in is a countable resource, which will almost always make you ineligible for SSI benefits.
Social Security counts a spouse’s resources only if they live in the household with you. If you have a live-in partner Social Security may consider them as a spouse even when you have not been legally married, if you hold yourselves out to friends, community, and family as "husband and wife”.
The Social Security Administration has a long list of what it counts and what it doesn’t count as resources in determining SSI eligibility, which is all the more reason to get the right legal advice.
If you are considering filing for either SSDI or SSI disability benefits, we can help you figure out how the Social Security regulations apply to your specific situation. Call us at Cuddigan Law for a free evaluation of your case.