Am I eligible for SSDI or SSI?
SSDI, SSI and Financial Eligibility
SSDI benefits are available to people who have worked a total of 5 years in the last 10. The amount you receive is based upon the amount you made while you were working. After two years of receiving SSDI checks, you become eligible for Medicare. SSDI has NO asset limits. In other words, you still qualify for this benefit if you have money in the bank, properties or other resources.
SSI payments are for people who have little or no work history, or who didn’t work enough to qualify for SSDI. Children with disabilities may qualify for their own SSI. The amount you receive on SSI depends on your living situation—if you live with other people, share space—and on amounts of money you receive from other programs or people. When you are approved for SSI you are also eligible for Medicaid (called MediCal here in California) benefits to cover medical bills. The SSI program has an asset limit. Individuals may not have more than $2,000 in resources like money in the bank or properties. Couples may not have more than $3,000. The home you live in and one car (that you must use to get to medical appointments) do not count as resources.
Once you are found to be eligible financially for SSDI and/or SSI, the Social Security Administration sends your file to the Disability Determination Service to determine if you’re unable to work.
You must have a medically determinable (that means a qualified medical professional can diagnose it), physical or mental condition that has lasted or will last 12 months or more or will result in death, THAT prevents you from doing “substantial work.” For 2014 Social Security defines substantial work as the ability to earn $1070 (gross) in one month.
Whatever your physical or mental health condition, be it a bad back, serious arthritis, respiratory issues, heart problems, effects of diabetes, poor kidney or liver function, HIV/AIDS, stroke, cancer, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or any other, you should take steps to seek treatment by medical professionals. Obviously, this is for your health and to prevent your condition from getting worse. It is also the only way Social Security will be able to determine if you are disabled or not—they need medical evidence of your medical problems!