Are you over the age of 65 and unable to make enough income to cover your basic needs? Has blindness made it difficult or even impossible for you to make a living? Are you struggling with a significant physical or mental impairment that impedes your ability to work? If you can answer yes to any of the above questions, you may be eligible for disability income, also known as Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
What is Supplemental Security Income?
Supplemental Security Income is a Federal program designed to provide supplemental income for those whose condition makes it difficult to work. These include aged, blind, and disabled people who have little to no income or resources. Supplemental Security Income is funded by general tax revenues, rather than Social Security taxes. The SSI program is meant to provide enough cash to meet basic physical needs for those who are eligible. Disability income can help you pay for housing, buy groceries and gas, purchase clothing, and cover other such necessities.
Determining Your Eligibility for Disability Income
The first step in applying for disability income is determining your eligibility. Your SSI eligibility is based on a number of factors such as:
- Your age
- Your disability
- Your level of income and resources
- Your citizenship status
- Your residency in the United States
Other factors that can affect your eligibility include your marital status and the income and resources of certain household members, such as your spouse.
If you are aged 65 or older, blind, have a significant physical or mental impairment that can be medically verified, and limited income and resources, there is a good chance that you are eligible to receive disability income. You can use the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool on the Social Security Administration website to help you determine your eligibility. Your answers to the questionnaire will determine whether you meet the requirements to receive Supplemental Security Income benefits. After completing the screening questionnaire, you will have a better grasp on the list of benefits for which you may apply.
What Physical and Mental Disabilities Qualify for SSI?
You may be wondering if your specific disability, physical or mental, makes you eligible to claim Supplemental Security Income. To make the evaluation process more efficient, it is helpful to become familiar with the Social Security Administration’s criteria for determining whether a specific condition qualifies you for disability income. There is a wide range of conditions that can qualify you for SSI. The Social Security Administration outlines 14 categories of medical criteria that apply to the evaluation of physical and mental disabilities:
- Musculoskeletal Disorders
- Special Senses and Speech
- Respiratory Disorders
- Cardiovascular System
- Digestive System
- Genitourinary Disorders
- Hematological Disorders
- Skin Disorders
- Endocrine Disorders
- Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems
- Neurological Disorders
- Mental Disorders
- Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Diseases)
- Immune System Disorders
You can look at the criteria for the category of your particular condition on the SSA website. No matter what category your condition falls under, the physical or mental impairment must be expected to last at least one year or result in death. Your condition must also be medically documented, that is, you have received a diagnosis and treatment for it from qualified medical professionals. This is important. Later in your application process, you will be required to provide medical evidence of your disability.
Another criterion that applies across all the categories is significance of impairment. To qualify for disability income, your condition must be such that it negatively impacts your daily life. For example, if you have bipolar disorder, you need to be able to show that it markedly limits your ability to function and/or prevents you from doing things like…
- Maintaining a steady job
- Interacting with other people in a healthy way
- Adjusting to changes in your environment
- Adjusting to demands that are not already part of your daily life
If your condition meets the criteria specific to its designated category, you are likely eligible for disability income.
What Citizenship and Residency Status Qualifies Me for SSI?
You might be asking yourself what citizenship status or residency makes you eligible to receive disability income. As far as citizenship status, you must be either a U.S. citizen or national or fall into one of the seven qualifying categories of aliens. If the Department of Homeland Security says you are in one of those categories, you may be eligible for disability income. You can find the categories listed under “Who is a ‘Qualified Alien’?” on the SSA website.
Residency requirements are a little more extensive. The requirements include that you are…
- A resident of one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands.
- Not absent from the country for 30 consecutive days or more.
- Not confined to an institution (hospital or prison) at the government’s expense.
What Kinds of Income and Resources Count Toward SSI Eligibility?
Not all income counts for SSI purposes, but income that is counted reduces your benefit amount. The SSI program considers money you earn by working; money you receive from the government, workers compensation, or family and friends; and free food or shelter.
By resources is meant things that you own, such as…
- Bank accounts, stocks, bonds
- Personal property
- Life insurance
- Anything else you own that could be converted to cash and used for food or shelter
If the value of your resources that the SSI program counts is over the allowable limit at the beginning of the month, you cannot receive SSI for that month. The limit for countable resources is $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple.
Beginning the SSI Benefits Application Process
Once you determine your eligibility, you can begin the process to apply for disability benefits. The Social Security Administration provides several options for this:
- Applying online at their Apply Online for Disability Benefits website
- Calling 1-800-772-1213 (or TTY 1-800-325-0778 if you are deaf or hard of hearing) and making make an appointment to apply
- Having someone else call to make the appointment for you or assist you with your application
- Calling your local Social Security office to schedule a phone appointment to file for SSI
Unfortunately, for many, the disability benefits assistance application is no easy task. It is a long and complicated process. For most applicants, it is all too easy to accidentally exclude critical information or make simple errors that impact whether your claim is accepted. Navigating the online application can be difficult for older applicants without adequate help. Having a serious medical condition, which is already physically and emotionally draining, can make the application process for disability income extremely overwhelming for yourself and for your loved ones.
Rather than attempting to go through this arduous process alone, it is often beneficial to find professional help. You may want to seek out an online disability case evaluation service.
Smooth Out the Application Process with a Free Disability Case Evaluation
At BenefitsClaim.com, we help Americans apply for Social Security Disability. Our team deals with the complexities of the application process so that you don’t have to do the heavy lifting. You may be eligible to receive up to $3,148 per month in benefits, and we want to help you claim that much-needed assistance.
We offer free online disability case evaluation so that you can see how much in benefits you are eligible to receive. The evaluation takes only one minute to complete. We will also connect you with a case evaluation specialist who can help make your application process go more smoothly.
Having assistance from our team makes a huge difference in your experience of the SSI application process. When you partner with us, you can move forward with confidence to claim disability income.