While providing medical review solutions for our client lawyers, we usually come across medical records containing information about various debilitating conditions that qualify for disability benefits. Whether SSD (Social Security Disability) or SSI (Supplemental Security Income), the benefits are awarded only to those who have a severe physical or mental impairment and are unable to earn a substantial, gainful income. The disability examiner would focus more on whether the impairment is severe and lasting enough to prevent the claimant from doing any kind of work at which they could earn a living. However, there is a difference in the way income and resources impact disability eligibility.
- SSI program is a need-based program, and so there are income and resource limits that affect SSI eligibility.
- SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) does not have any kind of income/resource limits since it is based upon insured status rather than need. Therefore income other than wages and resources do not affect SSDI eligibility.
- SSDI applicants/beneficiaries can have investments, rental homes, stocks, land, bonds and CDs without any penalty.
- SSI is affected by money in the bank, land, income, rental property, stocks and CDs among other resources. This is because it is a need-based disability program designed for those who have little or no income or resources.The SSA takes the following types of income into account when determining SSI eligibility.
- Lottery winnings
- Bank interest
- Workers’ compensation
- Spouse’s income
The SSA will exempt certain types of benefits or gifts such as:
- Educational gifts
- Financial aid
When a person files their disability application with the SSA, the administration would evaluate it for both SSDI and SSI disability. If the applicant meets the eligibility requirements of both the programs, their application is sent to the state disability agency as a concurrent claim. If they don’t meet the eligibility requirements of both programs, the claim would be sent as a SSDI or SSI only claim to the state disability agency.
SSI beneficiaries who are medically approved for disability benefits will have an “end line review” to address any changes in income or resources. Applicants who are found medically disabled by the SSA may still not be eligible for SSI benefits if they do not meet income and resource limits.
Social Security beneficiaries have to be very careful about accepting gifts of any form while receiving SS benefits. A recent case is that of Joyce Jeter who may face social security benefit cuts for accepting a gift amount of more than $3,700. In fact, this news was the subject of discussion at our medical record review company recently. She accepted the gift amount from Royals fans who raised money to send her to a Royals game at Kauffman Stadium. This amount was raised for her after she posted on a Royals fan page about her dream to go to a game. This however, came at a cost. Social Security has sent her letters notifying her that she was supposed to inform them about the money-raising program, and that they would be taking the money out of her Social Security checks. Joyce is considering accepting legal aid about the options she has and is hoping for a favorable outcome.