The Social Security Administration (SSA) has detailed guidelines on income and assets for those applying for disability benefits. Social Security disability income limits in 2015 differ for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Social Security Income (SSI) benefits.

SSA income guidelines are quite complex. We briefly will review the highlights below, but for more detailed information or help calculating your income, it’s advisable to speak to a disability attorney in your area. For legal help with disability benefits in Winston-Salem, contact Patton Brown Law to schedule a free consultation.

Substantial Gainful Activity

In order to qualify for SSDI or SSI, you must be unable to engage in what the SSA calls substantial gainful activity (SGA). The SSA puts a cap on how much money you can earn and still qualify for benefits because if you can work, then you aren’t considered disabled.

A person who earns more than a certain monthly threshold is considered to be engaging in SGA. To determine the threshold, the SSA goes by federal regulations, which factor the national average wage index into an equation to set the SGA income limit each year.

Income Guidelines for SSDI

For 2015, the SGA cap is $1,090 for disabled applicants and $1,820 for blind applicants. If you earn more than that amount, you cannot qualify for SSDI. For this type of benefit, the SSA doesn’t limit the amount of assets you can have, nor does it look at your unearned income. Unearned income includes assets such as investment income, earned interest and your spouse’s income. None of these affect your eligibility for SSDI — only your earned income from SGA is counted.

Income Guidelines for SSI

Contrary to SSDI, SSI is a need-based program, so there is not only a limit on your income, but also on your assets and unearned income. In 2015, the income limit for SSI is $733 for an individual and $1,100 for couples. This amount may increase from time to time due to Social Security cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs). You also cannot have more than $2,000 in assets ($3,000 per couple) to qualify for SSI.

The guidelines for the sources of income that affect your SSI are complex. For example, wages you earn, unemployment benefits, Social Security retirement benefits, gifts from friends, and free food or shelter will affect your SSI eligibility; whereas, sources such as loans, food stamps, tax refunds and other public, need-based benefits do not.

For assistance applying for benefits or legal help if you think your benefits were wrongly denied, call Patton Brown Law in Winston-Salem. Contact us today at 855-860-2150 for a free consultation.