Thousands of Los Angeles area residents cannot work because of a disability or medical condition. The Social Security Administration has put in place two different benefit programs, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To qualify for SSI benefits, you will need to meet the means test, proving that you have limited income and resources.

Reach Out to a Social Security Attorney Today

At Disability Advocates Group, we have extensive experience helping Los Angeles area residents obtain the SSI benefits they deserve. We can help you understand whether you meet the SSI means test. If you don’t qualify for SSI, you may be eligible for SSDI benefits. If you are eligible, we can help you apply for benefits and with the appeals process, if necessary. Contact Disability Advocates Group today to discuss whether or not you qualify.

The Difference Between SSDI and SSI

The eligibility requirements for SSDI and SSI are different. To be eligible for SSI benefits, you need to earn enough work credits by paying into the Social Security system with your income tax deductions. Typically, the older you are, the more work credits you need. Benefits are available through the SSDI program regardless of income and financial resources.

On the other hand, qualifying for SSI benefits depends on your income level. SSI benefits are available for individuals who are disabled, blind, or over the age of 65. The Social Security Administration imposes a means test. You will need to prove that you have limited financial resources to pass the means test and obtain monthly SSI benefits.

Qualifying for Social Security Benefits (SSI)

Individuals aged 65 or older, blind, or disabled can apply for SSI benefits. In addition to these requirements, applicants need to pass a means test showing that they have limited income and resources. The applicant needs to be a US citizen or a qualifying legal alien. 

Disabled applicants must show that they have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, including a learning or emotional problem. The impairment needs to result in the inability to do any substantial gainful activity. Additionally, the disability or impairment must be expected to result in death or last for at least 12 months.

How Does the Means Test Work?

The SSI benefits program is considered a “need-based” program. When an applicant meets the criteria listed above, the Social Security Administration will evaluate their resources and income. The income limit used in the means test is based on the federal benefit rate (FBR). The FBR combines the maximum available SSI payment and the SSI income limit. Your monthly income cannot exceed the FBR. 

The Benefits of Working With an Attorney

Understanding the income requirement in the means test can be difficult because the Social Security Administration doesn’t consider all of your monthly earnings. Understanding whether you are eligible can be difficult. Passing the means test can be incredibly challenging if you earn sporadic income or are a seasonal worker. At Disability Advocates Group, we will work closely with you to carefully review your income and resources to determine if you are eligible. 

What Constitutes Resources for the Means Test?

Currently, applicants must have fewer than $2,000 of resources for an individual and $3,000 for a couple. For the purpose of calculating the SSI means test, income is defined as money you earn from your job, free food or shelter, and money from the following sources:

  • Other Social Security benefits
  • Workers compensation
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Veterans’ benefits
  • Money or assets are given to you by friends or relatives.

Countable resources usually include financial assets, cash, and any property you can sell and turn into cash. Your home, household goods, the vehicle you rely on for transportation, and some other types of property will not count against you for the means test. 

What Constitutes Income for the Means Test?

As of 2022, the income limit for an individual is $841 per month or $1,261 per month for a couple when both spouses are beneficiaries. The Social Security Administration has a long and thorough list of what types of payments, earnings, and financial assistance it considers countable income when determining whether you meet the means test. For the SSI means test, resources include all of the following:

  • Cash
  • Money in bank accounts
  • Stocks, mutual funds, and U.S. savings bonds
  • Land
  • Vehicles
  • Personal Property
  • Life insurance, and
  • The property you own that could be converted into cash and used for food or shelter

Can I Sell or Give Away Assets to Become Eligible? 

As an applicant, you cannot sell your property or assets or give them away to qualify for SSI benefits. People who do so to reduce their income and asset level below the means test limit can be ineligible for Social Security benefits for up to 36 months.

Appealing a Denial of Your Application for SSI Benefits

Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration denies most first-time applications for benefits. If you have received a notice that your claim has been denied, it’s essential that you reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. You only have a limited amount of time to file a request for reconsideration. 

The attorneys at Disability Advocates Group can help you understand why you were denied. You may have been denied because you failed the means test. If you do meet the means test, our firm will review your financial situation and gather evidence showing you meet the means test. Whatever the reason you were denied, we can advocate for you throughout the appeals process. 

Reach Out to a Los Angeles SSI Benefits Attorney

Are you unable to work due to a disability or medical condition? If so, you may be entitled to Social Security benefits. At Disability Advocates Group, we can help you determine whether you will pass the SSI means test. If you are eligible for SSI or SSDI, we will help you navigate the entire process. We understand the financial and medical challenges you face and will provide you with excellent legal representation every step of the way. Contact Disability Advocates Group today to schedule your free initial consultation.