By Adam M. Taylor, Esquire
Many people do not spend a lot of time in the work force for one reason or another. Often they have suffered injuries that have prevented them from working. And even more often they have been homemakers, raising children while their spouse works. We all know that raising children is a job in itself! Unfortunately, the federal government does not see it that way and will exclude you from Social Security Disability benefits if you haven’t adequately contributed to Social Security during a worklife.
Still, there’s no reason to panic. The Social Security Administration has a backup plan for people like this. It’s called Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. The monthly payout for SSI is obviously lower than that of SSD but it will still provide some financial relief as well as those all-important medical benefits.
SSI benefits come with a encyclopedia full of rules which we obviously can not address fully here. Let’s try and deal with the important ones. First, like SSDI, the Administration will require that an SSI applicant show a disability that completely disables the employee from the work force for a total of at least 12 months. This is a difficult standard to meet and must be discussed with the applicant’s treating physician so that all efforts can be coordinated for the bets chance of success. Like SSDI, these medical records and reports will be the most important factor when the Administrative Law Judge makes her decision.
Additionally, a SSI Claimant must not have $2,000.00 in assets in order to be eligible. That’s right, you really gotta need it! There are some exclusions that make this rule a bit more manageable. The SSA will generally not count your home or first car but if you have that second place down the shore, you’re out of luck. And they will check your bank accounts!
With the heavy attention of immigration law and possible reform in the news every day, it may be helpful to discuss briefly who is and who is not eligible and far as immigration status in the United States. Obviously, any American citizen is eligible. However, most legal immigrants are no longer eligible for Social Security benefits of any kind following recent welfare reform. The exceptions, those who are eligible, are the following: refugees and persons granted asylum in the U.S. for the first seven years of their stay or persons who, despite their status, have worked and paid taxes on forty “quarters” of employment in the United States. Basically, it comes down to those who have contributed and those who have no choice but to be here.
As always, this has been a cursory glance at a much larger issue. If you need more information for yourself or a family or friend, much basic information can be found at www.ssa.gov. If you need help moving forward with a claim or have a more detailed question, I’m always a call away. See you next month!