When applying for Social Security benefit programs such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), your ability to collect disability may be impacted if you accept financial gifts from loved ones.
Learn about the differences between these two programs and how financial gifts can affect eligibility. For help with your disability claim, contact our lawyers for a free, no obligation consultation today.
Key Differences Between Disability Programs
Many people get SSDI and SSI programs confused. Both are operated by the Social Security Administration (SSA), but they are quite different.
- SSDI provides benefits you have earned through paycheck withholdings for Social Security taxes. There is a monthly income limit plus you must meet disability requirements to be eligible for benefits.
- SSI is needs-based assistance that provides income for those who have few earnings or assets. Many who receive SSDI benefits may also be eligible for SSI benefits, but these are not based on disability or past earnings. Even those who have not paid into the system may qualify to receive SSI benefits.
How Financial Help Affects SSDI Eligibility
For SSDI eligibility, monthly income limits apply. The types of income considered for the monthly income limit to receive SSDI include compensation for substantial gainful activity – income you receive for performing work. In 2019, SSDI recipients are allowed to earn up to $1,220 for non-blind individuals or $2,040 for blind individuals each month.
Regarding income for SSDI eligibility, financial gifts do not affect monthly income limits. Accepting a financial gift would not disqualify you from receiving SSDI benefits. As long as the financial assistance or gift you receive is not a payment for work performed or work that is typically performed for pay or profit, this amount will not affect eligibility.
How Financial Help Affects SSI Eligibility
As SSI eligibility considers one's need for income and not disability, the types of income that are counted towards the allowable monthly amount differ from what is counted for SSDI benefits. The SSI program looks at the following types of income:
- Earnings from wages, self-employment net income, honoraria, sheltered workshop payments and some types of royalties
- Unearned income, which is any income one receives but does not work for, including unemployment benefits, interest income, disability payments, pensions, Social Security benefits, and financial gifts from family and friends
- In-kind income including food or shelter provided at a reduced cost or free
- Deemed income, which is money your spouse earns if he or she is part of your household, as well as parental income in the case of minor children
Countable income is subtracted from the SSI federal benefit rate to reduce monthly benefits. If one's countable income is higher than the federal benefit rate, benefits are not paid.
To avoid affecting one's SSI eligibility, family and friends can provide financial assistance in other ways besides offering cash or financial gifts. Options include:
- Paying a bill directly rather than providing you money to pay the bill yourself
- Lending money that must be repaid (with a written agreement, not contingent on the receipt of SSI benefits)
Seek Help from a Disability Attorney Today
People rely on disability benefits from programs such as SSDI and SSI for much needed financial support. Friends and family may wish to help out with financial gifts, but it is important to know how such a gift could affect one's ability to secure these benefits before the gift is accepted.
If you need assistance with your disability claim, contact the Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyers at Dayes Law Firm today. We offer a free, no obligation consultation so you can learn what legal options may be available to you. There are no upfront fees and payment is only due if we help you recover benefits.