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What Are Non-Medical Requirements for Social Security Disability?

Published on February 23rd, 2021

Applying for disability can be a long and complicated process. The Social Security Administration (SSA) outlines the medical requirements for qualifying conditions in their Blue Book. But there are also a number of non-medical requirements to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

Non-Medical Requirements for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

To qualify for SSI benefits, disabled individuals must have limited income and limited resources. They must be U.S. citizens, nationals, or fall into specific categories of aliens. They must reside in one of the 50 states, D.C., or the Northern Mariana Islands. SSI recipients are also prohibited from leaving the country for a full calendar month or 30 consecutive days.

Those who are confined to a hospital, prison, or other institution at the expense of the government are ineligible for SSI benefits. And you may not apply for cash benefits or payments from other sources, including pensions or Social Security. You must authorize the SSA to obtain any of your financial records. Finally, you must file an application.

Income and Resource Limitations for SSI

If your monthly income exceeds the SSI Federal benefit limit (currently $783), you will not be eligible for SSI benefits. However, it’s possible to earn or receive money that does not count as income. Income that does not count for SSI includes income tax refunds, scholarships, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps). You can find a more complete list of income types that do not count for SSI on the SSA website.

SSI recipients must also have limited resources. Individuals and children may only have resources worth a total of $2,000. For couples, the limit is $3,000. The SSA defines resources as “anything… you own that could be converted to cash and used for food or shelter.” This includes but is not limited to cash, bank accounts, investments, land, vehicles, personal property, and life insurance.

Like income, some resources do not count for SSI. The home in which you live and a single vehicle used for transportation are two such examples. The SSA website provides a complete list.

Non-Medical Requirements for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance is just like your car or health insurance in that it requires you to pay into the program to be eligible for benefits. If you’ve paid income tax, part of that tax goes toward funding SSDI benefits. But a single paycheck worth of income taxes isn’t enough to qualify you for SSDI.

The SSA uses a system of work credits to determine SSDI eligibility. You need to earn more than a specified amount during a quarter of coverage to earn a work credit. In 2021, you need to make at least $1,470 per quarter to earn work credits. But this amount changes from year to year.

Your age determines the number of work credits you need to qualify for SSDI. Individuals who are

  • 23 or younger must have earned 6 work credits over 3-years leading up to the start of their disability.
  • 24 to 31 years old must, in general, have earned work credits in at least half of quarters between the age of 21 and the start of their disability.
  • Age 31 or older must, in general, have earned at least 20 work credits in the 10 years leading up to their disability.

To be eligible for SSDI you must also be unable to perform substantial gainful activity. In 2021, non-blind individuals may earn up to $1,310 a month and still qualify for SSDI. Blind individuals can earn as much as $2,190 per month and still qualify.

Request a Free Evaluation

If a disability prevents you from working, we can help you get the benefits you deserve. Rabin & Associates is home to some of the best disability lawyers in Chicago. We know exactly what the SSA looks for on disability applications and provide our clients with the best chance at a successful claim. Call us today at 888-529-0600 to schedule a free consultation.

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