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2 min read

SSI: An Alternative for Those Unqualified for Social Security Disability

SSI: An Alternative for Those Unqualified for Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a type of insurance that provides financial disability benefits to those who qualify; but what happens if you don’t qualify?  Maybe you were in a long-term relationship where your romantic partner paid the bills and have since separated and become disabled.  You may not have sufficient recent work history to be entitled to benefits in your own name; since you weren't married though, you cannot receive Social Security benefits based solely on the work history of your former romantic partner.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is an Alternative

This is just one of the many situations in which a disabled individual finds themselves unable to collect Social Security Disability benefits.  This can induce a sense of panic in many disabled individuals, a feeling of being stuck: your disability prevents you from working, which prevents you from paying for essentials like food, shelter, and clothing.  The good news is that while it is the most well-known program, Social Security Disability is not the only potential source of benefits for disabled individuals.  Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a great alternative for many who find themselves in this difficult situation.

SSI Purpose and Qualifications

The purpose of SSI is to provide financial support to low-income disabled, blind, and elderly individuals so that they can meet their fundamental needs for food, shelter, and clothing.  In short, to qualify for SSI, you must: (1) be disabled, elderly (over 65), or blind, and (2) have limited income and resources.  These requirements aren’t quite as simple as they sound and are broken down into numerous sub-requirements and definitions.  A few important explanations:

For purposes of SSI, a disabled adult is one who has a condition that prevents them from participating in gainful employment and is expected to last for 12 months or longer or result in death.  This is substantially the same definition used for the Social Security Disability determination.  Once a disability is shown, the issue becomes finances.  The applicant must show both limited income and limited resources.

For purposes of SSI, limited income is determined on a case-by-case basis using a variety of formulas and sometimes applying different state rules.  The analysis is best described as “it’s complicated,” but the general effect is the more monthly income you have the lower your SSI benefit will be.  If you have too much income, you won’t receive any benefits at all.

Limited resources mean that you must own less than $2,000 in resources as an individual or under $3,000 as a couple.  Resources are essentially property, including things like cash, life insurance, and vehicles.  Some resources are not counted towards this total, but those that are cannot exceed the amounts set by the Social Security Administration.

This is just an overview of the general qualification criteria, and more detailed information can be found here on the Social Security Administration’s website.


Good news!  SSI benefits are not subject to federal income taxes.  The financial benefit is modest and for this reason, the government exempts the benefits from taxes.

Case Analysis

If you are disabled and seeking benefits, call to set up an appointment with one of the experienced disability benefits attorneys at either the Whitcomb, Selinsky PC law firm or our sister firm, the Rocky Mountain Disability Law Group.  Our attorneys can analyze your situation to determine what benefits you qualify for and help you apply for those benefits.  Contact us today to learn more about how we can help ensure you receive the benefits you are entitled to. Please call (303) 534-1958 or complete a contact form on our website.