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Can I apply for Social Security if other members of my family are working?

If you are unable to work because of a medical condition, you might be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. While you may have several questions about how you can qualify for benefits, you should not be concerned if you have family members who are working in most situations.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) does require that you have a work history that shows you have earned sufficient credits and paid in adequate taxes, it is not impacted by your financial situation or your resources. However, if you don’t qualify for SSDI and are seeking Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for your disability, finances do come into play.

SSI Benefits and the Financial Guidelines

While SSI is awarded for disability and you must meet the same medical criteria that are required to receive SSDI, there are specific financial requirements that must be met in order to get approved for SSI benefits. SSI is funded by general tax revenues and not by Social Security taxes, so it's only available for the most needy.

A program specifically designed to help elderly, disabled or blind workers who have little or no income. The nominal monthly benefit is designed to provide finances to help with the basic needs for clothing, shelter, food and other living expenses. Because of the program’s design and funding, you cannot exceed specific income guidelines to qualify for benefits. Because of this, your eligibility can be impacted by the income of family members.

SSI Income Guidelines

SSI’s income limit is based on the federal benefit rate (FBR). The FBR represents the income limit for SSI and the maximum monthly SSI payment. During 2017, the FBR is $735 per month for individuals and $1,103 per month for couples. Of course, the income limits can fluctuate based on the size of your family.

The SSA doesn’t count all your income toward your limits as well. Because SSI is needs-based, you should understand that any earned income and any unearned income will impact your eligibility for SSI and the amount of benefits that you receive each month. The first $20 of unearned benefits are not counted toward your financial limits. The first $65 of earned income each month also do not count. Of course, the number of people in your household is also given consideration when calculating to determine if you meet financial guidelines.

If your spouse makes $60,000 per year, then it is safe to say that you aren’t going to qualify for SSI benefits because there is not an established financial need.

Consulting with an Advocate or an Attorney

If you are unable to work because of a medical problem, you should consult with an attorney or an advocate to determine if you are eligible to receive SSDI or SSI benefits. In some cases, you may qualify for both if your SSDI benefits fall below the income guidelines. With the help of an advocate or an attorney, you will learn for which benefits you qualify and if you meet any of the necessary financial requirements that impact eligibility.