Many clients believe that it should be easy to get Social Security disability. Often times…
How Does SSI Work for Adults?
SSI is an abbreviation for Supplemental Security Income. SSI is a type of benefit that is paid to disabled individuals of limited financial means. The information in this posting only refers to SSI. If your case is for DIB (SSD, Disability Insurance Benefits), this posting does not apply to you.
In order to receive SSI, an adult would need to have very limited household income. Household income includes the income of the claimant (the person claiming disability) and that of their spouse. Income of boyfriends, girlfriends, parents (for adult cases), roommates et cetera is irrelevant.
The most SSI that one can receive in 2023 is $914 per month. SSI is reduced by 1/3 if you live with someone else and do not pay rent or if someone else pays your rent/mortgage for you. The rental/mortgage offset does not apply if you cohabitate with your spouse, and they pay the rent/mortgage. If you start paying your own rent or mortgage your SSI can be boosted back up to the full amount.
If you work while receiving SSI essentially every gross dollar that you earn will reduce your SSI figure by 50 cents. If you live with your spouse and they earn (from work) over about $1,000 per month gross your SSI will begin to slightly decrease. If your spouse earns around $3,000 per month gross your SSI will be completely eliminated for that month. The more household income that you have the more your SSI will be reduced. Please be advised that unearned income is treated differently. Some examples of unearned income include things like unemployment, worker’s compensation, gifts, and private disability payments. A disabled individual’s unearned income will cut into SSI on basically a dollar for dollar rate. If a spouse has over about $1,300 in unearned income, SSI would be eliminated. Again, there is a sliding scale up to this figure. Please be advised that income allotments vary upward from that noted above depending on the number of children in a household. Moreover, income is assessed on a month to month basis. Thus, you may qualify for a certain amount of SSI one month, less SSI the next month, and more SSI the month thereafter. It all depends on how much your household income varies from one month to the next.
In addition to having limited household income, you cannot receive SSI if you have assets totaling more than $2,000. This does not include the home that you live in and one vehicle that you drive (there are also many other less common exceptions that can be found at https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-resources-ussi.htm). If you are married the assets of you and your spouse cannot total more than $3,000 with the same exceptions as that noted above. Unlike income, there is not a sliding scale approach when it comes to assets.
What happens if you win SSI? If you win SSI and have income (or if your spouse does) you will have to report such income to Social Security on a monthly basis. This reporting is especially important if your household income varies on a monthly basis. If you do not report your household income or asset changes to Social Security, there is a high likelihood that you will be charged with an overpayment. If this happens, Social Security will withhold money from your monthly check until they are paid back for any miscalculation in the amount that the SSI recipient should have received. Notably, it is very difficult to fight an overpayment. Even if it is totally Social Security’s fault for overpaying you, you will normally still have to pay them back. The good news is that Social Security is very lenient in accepting rather low monthly repayment plans.
The rules for SSI are very technical. If you win your disability case for SSI, your claim will be transferred to the local Social Security Office for a PERC interview. This is basically a financial interview. Remember, a PERC interview only takes place if you win your case. Social Security will ask you things like:
How do you pay for rent?
How do you pay your mortgage?
Do you own any real estate?
Do you own any vehicles?
Does your spouse own any real estate or vehicles?
Do you or your spouse have any investments?
Do you or your spouse have any bank accounts? (often they will want to see statements)
What income have you had since your application?
What income has your spouse had since your application? (they may want paystubs)
Does anybody else pay your bills? How do they go about paying your bills?
Does anybody regularly give you money?
Given the foregoing, it is very important that you are open about your assets and income when first applying for SSI. It is also important that you update changes in your financial situation with your attorney as your case progresses. Otherwise, you run the risk of going through the whole disability process and even winning your case just to find out that you cannot get any benefits because of the financial restrictions.
We have helped thousands of people in the Northeast Ohio area obtain SSI by proving that they are disabled and helping them through the PERC process. If you believe that you are disabled (unable to work) and believe that you qualify for SSI, please give us a call as we would be happy to help you.
If you have already been found disabled and are having problems getting your SSI effectuated, it is highly advisable that you contact the attorney who originally helped with your case.
Our attorneys are skilled at making sure that you get the most SSI possible. If you are looking for an experienced attorney to help you with your SSI application or appeal, please call us at the number on this website or contact us through our online form. We are happy to assist you and we offer free consultations. Also, we only get paid if you win your SSI case.