If you are unable to work due to a disability, you may be eligible for benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). This may include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both programs require proof that you meet the SSA’s definition of disability, but each has different additional requirements.
Generally, to qualify for SSI, you must have limited assets and income. The formula for determining whether you fall within the SSI asset and income limits can be fairly complicated. An experienced New Jersey SSI attorney can work with you to help you understand your right to Social Security disability, whether you are applying for SSI and/or SSDI.
At Bross & Frankel, we work with individuals with disabilities to help them apply for or appeal denials of disability benefits. We have decades of combined experience in the Social Security field, including working for the SSA. To learn more or to schedule a free claim review, reach out to our law firm today.
What Are the SSI Income Limits?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program. This means that in addition to meeting the Social Security definition of disabled, you must prove that you fall within the strict limits for assets and income set by the SSA.
The monthly income limit for SSI is based on the federal benefit rate, or FBR. This is the maximum monthly SSI payment, and it is also used to determine the income limit. For 2023, the FBR is $914 per month for individuals and $1,371 for couples.
Only certain types of income – known as countable income – qualify for the income limit. Countable income includes:
- Earned income from wages, self-employment, and other types of payment;
- Unearned income from other types of benefits (such as unemployment), pensions, interest income, and cash from friends and relatives;
- In-kind income is food and/or shelter that you either get for free or for less than fair market value; and
- Deemed income is that part of the income earned by your spouse or parents (if you live with them) or a sponsor that the SSA uses to compute benefit amounts.
The formula for counting earned income is a bit complex. Broadly, an individual can earn up to $1,913 per month if they only have income from working and still get SSI (although the amount of the monthly benefit will be reduced). That is because the Social Security Administration subtracts $65 for earned income, $20 for earned or unearned income, and then subtracts half of the remainder to determine a person’s earned income.
Certain types of income do not count for SSI purposes. This includes income tax refunds, home energy assistance, SNAP (food stamp) benefits, and small amounts of income received irregularly or infrequently.
Most states add money to the federal SSI payment to make these calculations even more difficult. This is known as the state supplement. For this reason, the monthly income limit varies by state.
In addition, when you first apply for Social Security disability benefits, one of the criteria that the SSA uses to determine eligibility is whether you are able to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). Generally, if you make $1,470 or more per month ($2,460 if you are blind) in 2023, then you are engaged in substantial gainful activity and will not be considered disabled. However, once you are approved for SSI benefits, the SGA limit no longer applies as long as you are still considered disabled.
The rules surrounding income limits for SSI are incredibly difficult for most people to figure out – particularly when you are already dealing with doctor’s appointments, therapy, and other issues related to your disability. If you are uncertain about whether you may be eligible for SSI, reach out to a New Jersey Social Security disability lawyer for a free claim review.
What Are the SSI Asset Limits?
In addition to income limits, the SSA sets resource limits for SSI applicants. A resource includes cash as well as things that could be converted into cash. To be eligible for SSI, your countable resources cannot exceed $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple.
Countable resources only include things that count towards the resource limit, such as:
- The home that you live in;
- One vehicle, if you use it for transportation;
- Household goods and personal effects;
- Certain life insurance policies;
- Burial plots and funds;
- Property used in a trade or business;
- Money set aside under a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS); and
- Up to $100,000 in an Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account.
The resource limit calculation isn’t as complex as the formula for the income limit. That being said, it can still be hard to determine whether you qualify based on your countable resources. For example, assets that are held in a revocable trust may be counted by the Social Security Administration, while assets held for a disabled person in some special needs trusts won’t be counted if they meet SSA rules.
There are also restrictions on giving away or selling assets for less than fair market value in order to qualify for SSI. Because these rules regarding income and asset limits are strict, it is important that you consult with a seasoned Social Security disability attorney before moving forward with an application.
Find Out If You May Qualify for SSI
If you cannot work because of a disability and have limited assets and income, you may qualify for SSI. That being said, it can be difficult for the average person to figure out if they are eligible for these benefits given how confusing the rules are for this program. Our law firm can help you determine if you may qualify for SSI and/or SSDI benefits based on your medical or mental health condition, work history, assets, and income.
Based in Cherry Hill, Bross & Frankel advocates for people with disabilities throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We offer free initial consultations for all prospective clients, whether you are applying for disability benefits for the first time or are appealing a denial of your application. To learn more or to schedule a claim review with a New Jersey Social Security disability attorney, give us a call at 866-311-3786 or fill out our online contact form.
See also: SSI Lump Payments and Backpay
Rich Frankel is the managing partner of Bross & Frankel. He is a member of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania bars. He has focused exclusively on disability and social security benefits since 2005.
Mr. Frankel joined what is now Bross & Frankel after having watched his father struggle with disability, fighting a lengthy illness. Mr. Frankel founded the firm’s veteran’s law practice and substantially grew the social security disability practice, focusing Bross & Frankel’s ability to fight for all of the disability benefits available to his clients.
Mr. Frankel additionally fights for clients in court, obtaining frequent victories in Social Security appeals and against insurance companies in Federal court.