Disability Appeals in North Carolina   -   33 Years Experience
David R. Paletta
Disability Attorney

Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Boone
North Carolina

(919) 491-5643

Supplemental Security Income Disability Benefits. (SSI)

The SSI program makes payments to individuals who are low income and who are disabled.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) manages the SSI program.

The SSI disability program is a "needs based" program.  In order to be eligible, an individual must meet financial limitations concerning Income and Resources.  It is not necessary for an individual to have paid Social Security taxes in order to be eligible for SSI disability benefits.

Income.  Income is any money you receive.  SSA also includes as income such things as food, clothing or shelter.  SSA does not count all of your income when it decides whether you qualify for SSI.  For example, it does not count:

  • the first $20 per month of most income you receive;
  • the first $65 per month you earn from working and half the amount over $65;
  • food stamps;
  • shelter you get from private nonprofit organizations; and
  • most home energy assistance.

If you are married, SSA will include part of your spouse's income and resources when deciding whether you qualify for SSI. If you are younger than age 18, SSA will include part of your parents' income and resources.

Resources.  In order to be eligible for SSI, your total resources must be less than $2,000.  If you are married, your total marital resources must be less than $3,000.  SSA counts resources (assets) such as real estate, bank accounts, cash, stocks and bonds in deciding whether you qualify for SSI.  SSA does not count everything.  For example, it does not count:

  • the home you live in and the land it is on;
  • life insurance policies with a face value of $1,500 or less; and
  • your car (usually).

  • If you have either more Income or more Resources than the regulations allow, then you are not eligible for Supplemental Security Income Disability Benefits and SSA will not look at your medical condition.  

    If you satisfy the Income and Resource requirements, SSA will then investigate whether you are disabled.  The regulations concerning how the Social Security Administration determines whether a person is disabled are the same for the both the SSDI and SSI programs.  The same 5 Step evaluation process is used in both types of disability programs.


    Source:  SSA Publication No. 05-11000, February 2004