For those who are blind, have a disability, or have limited income and resources, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a lifeline that can help make ends meet. This vital component of the social safety net in the United States is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It offers a monthly cash benefit to help cover necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing. Unfortunately, navigating the SSI program can be overwhelming and confusing. That’s why we’re here to help. Our comprehensive guide to SSI disability qualifications provides you with everything you need to know, from how to qualify to how to apply. Don’t hesitate to call our SSI lawyers at Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault for more detailed information or help to file for benefits.


Who is eligible for SSI?


Age Requirement


The first eligibility requirement for obtaining SSI is your age – you must be over the age of 65, blind, or disabled. To be considered disabled, you must have a physical or mental impairment that prevents you from working. Your disability must either be expected to last at least 12 months or result in death. Additionally, if you are blind, you must have a visual acuity of 20/200 or worse in your better eye with corrective lenses.

Citizenship or Legal Resident Status


The next qualification is citizenship or legal resident status. You must either be a U.S. citizen or national or a legal resident alien in good standing. It is important to note that if you receive SSI benefits, leaving the country for more than 30 consecutive days may result in your benefits being terminated.

To be eligible for SSI, you must reside in one of the 50 U.S. states or the District of Columbia. You must physically be present in the country and intend to reside here indefinitely.




You must not be institutionalized or residing in a hospital or prison at the government’s expense. However, if you live in a licensed group home, you may still be eligible for SSI benefits.




The final qualification that must be met is having limited income and resources. The SSI program is designed for individuals with a low income and few resources. Income limits are adjusted annually based on the federal poverty line, so it is important to check the guidelines annually. For income and resources, the SSI program defines income as any money or items received for free that can be used to pay for food and shelter. Resources include cash, property, or any item that can be converted into cash. Your resources should not be worth more than $2,000 in total for an individual or $3,000 for couples.


What does the SSA mean by “disability”?


One of the primary SSI qualifications is to prove that you meet the SSA’s definition of disabled. How does the SSA define disability? The Administration will consider you disabled if you have medically determinable physical or mental impairment that:

  1. Prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity (for children, the impairment must result in marked and severe functional limitations); and
  2. It is expected to last a year or longer or result in death.

The SSA maintains a Listing of Impairments that describes impairments for each major body system that the SSA assumes will be severe enough to prevent an individual from doing any substantial gainful activity (SGA).

There are separate listings for children and adults. If you have an impairment that is on the list and meets the severity requirements for the listing, the SSA will likely consider you disabled.

If your impairment is on the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances list, your condition will always qualify for benefits.

However, it is important to note that even if you do not meet the exact criteria for a listing, this does not necessarily disqualify you. If you can show the SSA that your condition(s) is so disabling that it prevents you from doing SGA, the Administration may still determine you as disabled.

Determining if you meet disability criteria might seem straightforward, but it is rarely so. Our team can look into your records and determine if you meet the definition of disabled and, if not, what other evidence you may need.


What are the income limits to qualify for SSI?


For anyone receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), earning an income from work can be a bit of a fine-tuned art. The latest data shows that for 2023, individuals cannot earn more than $1,913 per month, while couples are maxed out at $2,827 per month. And that’s not all – there’s also a limit on assets, which is set to remain at $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples in 2023 and 2024.

However, those numbers are somewhat misleading. The SSA does not count various sources of income when calculating your monthly income.

For example, while the SSA counts your self-employment earnings, wages, Social Security benefits, pensions, and unemployment benefits as your income, there are over two dozen types and sources of income that it does not count. Income tax refunds, home energy assistance, and the first $20 you earn a month are just a few of those that are exempt.


What are the qualifications regarding resources?


The SSA specifies that the value of your assets must also fall below a certain threshold to qualify for SSI. Resources include not only cash you have on hand but also your:

  • Bank accounts
  • Stocks and savings bonds
  • Land that you own
  • Extra vehicles
  • Life insurance
  • Other things of relative value that you own that you could convert to cash and use for food and shelter

Sometimes, the SSA might credit some of your spouse’s or parents’ resources.

The SSA notes, “Federal law doesn’t require support by relatives. But, in deciding whether someone can get SSI, we consider a husband and wife who live together to share their income and resources, and a child to share their parents’ income and resources.”

The current SSI limits for resources are $2,000 for individuals/children and $3,000 for couples. But similar to income exemptions, there are various resources that the SSA does not count toward this limit, such as:

  1. Your home
  2. One vehicle
  3. Your personal effects, e.g., your wedding rings
  4. Your household goods
  5. Burial plots for you and your family
  6. Life insurance policies valued at less than $1,500
  7. Grants, scholarships, or gifts that you have set aside to pay educational expenses for nine months after receipt 


Find out if you meet SSI disability qualifications. Get a Free Evaluation.


If you are considering applying for SSI benefits, it’s important to know that the qualifications can be quite specific. While the requirements can seem overwhelming, getting an expert opinion is always a good idea. An Ohio disability lawyer can review your case and help determine whether you meet all the necessary qualifications. At Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault, we offer free SSI case evaluations for disabled individuals in Ohio. We’ve been helping people with their legal needs for over six decades and are committed to providing our clients with the highest level of service. If you’re unsure about your SSI eligibility, call us at 419-843-6663 or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation with one of our dedicated Toledo disability lawyers.