If you have experienced a health crisis that has prohibited you from working, chances are you are experiencing a difficult time in your life. In addition to trying to heal from your illness or injury, you are likely facing the stress of bills and financial responsibilities that may be beginning to stack up.
The application process for Social Security Disability benefits can be cumbersome and tedious, taking as long as six months for approval. As such, you will need to ensure your financial stability while your application is being processed.
Accepting financial aid from family members or friends is entirely acceptable, whether it be in the form of food, a place to call home, or money.
Even once you are approved for benefits, you may still accept occasional cash gifts, so long as it is not income that you are earning. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is not a need-based program and therefore is not affected by unearned income.
Unearned income may include investments, cash gifts, or inheritances.
What if my spouse or other live-in family member continues to make an income? Can I still qualify for SSDI?
One of the main criteria in qualifying for SSDI benefits includes having an established work history. In fact, your benefits will be primarily based on the amount of earned income of which you have paid Social Security taxes. SSDI is funded through Social Security taxes paid by workers and employers.
Therefore, if you become disabled, you may qualify for disability benefits regardless of your household income. Many homes rely on two, or more paychecks, and the SSA is cognizant of that fact.
If you suffer from an illness or injury that is expected to keep you out of work for at least 12 months, your family may face financial hardships as a result of your loss of income. SSDI will only consider your ability to work and your income, but will not take into account your family income.
How Does Social Security Insurance (SSI) differ from SSDI in terms of gifts or assets?
Social Security Insurance (SSI) is a need-based program designed for individuals who do not have a long-standing work history. People with low income and few resources who are 65 years or older, blind, or disabled, may qualify for SSI.
Unlike SSDI, SSI considers “income” anything that a person receives that can be used for food or shelter. Therefore, income and assets such as cash gifts may affect eligibility for SSI. Further, if only one member of a couple qualifies for SSI, their partner’s income may be considered.
How can an attorney or advocate help me understand what funds I am allowed to receive or accept?
When you become disabled, it can be challenging to manage the everyday aspects of life. Between doctor’s appointments, medical tests, and therapies, the other parts of life often fall by the wayside, typically due to exhaustion. A qualified attorney can help pick up the financial pieces for you.
The Social Security application process itself is challenging, even for the brightest and healthiest of individuals. Even once you are approved, understanding your rights and obligations is not easy.
The rules and processes around Social Security are extremely complicated for the layperson to understand. A Social Security Attorney can help you navigate the application process and can continue to be your advocate even after you are approved for benefits.
When questions arise, as they certainly will, such as “Am I allowed to accept a gift?” or “Can I invest in stocks?”, an experienced Social Security Lawyer or Advocate can be just a phone call away.