Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are both federal programs providing income to people who are unable to work due to disability. The medical standard is the same: ” inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” 42 USC 423(d). The difference is on the financial end.
If you aren’t insured under SSD because you didn’t work on the books for a sufficient amount of time (40 quarters) over the last 10 years or it has been more than 5 years since you stopped working, your only option may be to apply for SSI. As a means-tested program, SSI has strict financial requirements.
The current monthly benefit is $721.00, and if you are eligible, you will receive Medicaid benefits for health insurance. The rules are complex, but generally, every dollar earned by you or your spouse (if you are living together) will be debited against that benefit. So if you work part-time or your spouse is employed, that income might exceed the SSI limit and there may be no benefit for you. Unless you can receive at least one dollar of SSI benefit in a given month, you cannot receive Medicaid benefits. (You may still qualify for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, www.healthcare.gov).
Also, there is an asset (resource) limit. If you have more than $2,000 in accessible liquid assets, you cannot apply for SSI. However, if you are under 65, there is the possibility of transferring the excess assets into a Special Needs Trust (sometimes called a “(d)4(a) trust”) created by a parent, grandparent or court, or to a “pooled trust” (sometimes called a (d)4(c) trust) managed by a charitable organization for people with disabilities. Once the assets have been transferred, you could proceed with your SSI application if you meet the income and medical criteria.
There is no asset (resource) limit for SSD eligibility. However, if you require Medicaid benefits for in-home care, assisted living or nursing home care, and you are under 65, a special needs trust may be a useful technique for you as well.
Call us for SSD/SSI appeals and for advice on establishing and funding special needs trusts …
This article provides general information only and is not intended as legal advice for your individual situation.