Woman applying for supplemental security income.

Qualifying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in California

Q: Do I qualify for Supplemental Security Income?

California disability benefits attorneys help the disabled access disability benefits through two federal government programs administered by the Social Security Administration (“SSA”).

Qualifying for Social Security disability benefits through either program requires the applicant to meet the government’s definition of “disabled” and be suffering from a qualifying physical and/or mental condition. The “Blue Book” is a list of approved qualifying conditions, and while it is extensive, it is not exclusive. In addition, the medical condition must prevent the applicant from engaging in “substantial gainful activities” and be a condition that has lasted or is expected to last for 12 months or more or will result in death.

What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?

Unlike Social Security Disability Insurance, or (‘SSDI”) benefits–which mandates the applicant satisfy a work credits requirement by working and paying into the Social Security system through their payroll tax deductions for a certain number of hours and years prior to becoming disabled–the SSI program has no such requirement. In fact, many SSI applicants have never worked. SSI is a “means-based” disability benefits program for applicants of extremely limited financial income and assets.

Generally, when applying for SSI benefits, applicants, as well as recipients, can have no more than $2000 to their name – – a threshold so low that it makes it difficult for many to access or retain the benefits. 

Fortunately, new legislation, known as the “Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act”, may change all that by bringing these extremely low, outdated financial limits—which have been largely static” since 1972—“up to speed with inflation”. The proposed legislation seeks to raise significantly the SSI asset limit “to $10,000 for an individual and $20,000 for couples.

Why should the SSI financial limits change?

There are many reasons for the proposed change including:

  • The financial limits haven’t been changed since 1989;
  • The current law penalizes recipients for being married;
  • To allow people to earn more income each month;
  • To allow people to save for emergencies.

If you have questions regarding applying for Social Security disability benefits or appealing the denial of benefits, the disability attorneys of California at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation

From our office in Los Angeles, we represent disabled people and their families in all aspects of disability law.