The maze of confusing regulations and complicated procedures confronting you when applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a challenge to navigate through. First, you need to realize the Social Security Administration has two programs providing disability benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. Then, you must figure out the eligibility rules for each of them and decide whether you qualify.
It’s not easy to do. For example, something as basic and simple as having a bank account may present an obstacle to qualifying for Social Security disability benefits. This article addresses the guidelines for each program, including how to address asset limitations that could make having money in the bank an issue.
Social Security disability programs: Supplemental Security Income
The Supplemental Security Income program provides monthly cash payments to adults and children with limited financial resources who are blind or disabled. The program also pays benefits to non-disabled individuals who are 65 years of age and older and meet the strict financial limitations of the program.
You cannot have available financial resources exceeding $2,000 in value for an individual and $3,000 for a couple. Bank accounts and cash on hand are resources that count toward the financial limitations.
Bank accounts and other financial resources of the parents, or in some instances a stepparent, may affect the ability of a child to qualify for disability benefits through the SSI program. Through a process referred to as “deeming,” Social Security treats the bank accounts of a parent or a stepparent as available for the support of a child and counts a portion of its value toward the $2,000 resource limit.
Social Security Disability Insurance
The other disability program, Social Security Disability Insurance, is notably different from SSI in two ways. First, you must earn the right to be insured under the program by having worked and paid Social Security income received through employment or self-employment. The second difference is the absence of limits on financial resources you may have available to you, which includes bank accounts.
To qualify for SSD, you must have worked long enough to acquire a sufficient number of work credits. You earn work credits based on the wages or income from self-employment you have during the year. For 2021, you earn one credit for each $1,470 you make in wages or through self-employment up to a maximum of four credits a year.
As a general rule, you need 40 credits to qualify for SSD with half of them, or 20 work credits, earned within the 10 years before the onset of your disability. The total number of credits needed to qualify and how recent some of them must be varies depending upon your age when applying for benefits. Your age when you become disabled affects the length of time that you must have worked, with younger workers requiring fewer credits than older workers.
How much Social Security Disability benefits you receive depends upon your earnings record over your lifetime. SSD is based on lifetime average earnings, so if you worked for an extended period at a low-paying job or had only minimal income from self-employment, your monthly benefit would be affected even though you worked long enough to qualify for SSD.
Bank accounts and SSD
Unlike the SSI program, money in the bank generally does not affect your eligibility for SSD benefits. However, the source of the money could be an issue.
Social Security defines “disabled” as the inability to engage in substantial gainful activities because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment. The impairment or impairments must last or be anticipated to last for at least one year or be expected to cause death.
One measure of the ability to engage in substantial gainful activity Social Security applies to someone working when applying for or receiving SSD benefits is the amount of monthly income earned through work or self-employment. Someone who is blind may not earn more than $2,190 a month in 2021 or $1,310 a month if otherwise disabled. As long as your income remains at or below the limits for SSD, earning it will not affect your eligibility to receive benefits even if deposited into a bank account.
London Eligibility disability advocates can help
The disability advocates at London Eligibility understand how much Social Security disability benefits can mean when a physical or mental impairment prevents you from working and earning a living. They strive to provide the advice you can trust and rely upon along with superior representation to ensure that you receive the Social Security disability benefits that you are eligible to receive. Contact them today for answers to all questions you may have relating to applying for benefits or about how to challenge the denial of an application.