Win Your Benefits! How to Get – and Hang ON to – Your SSI and Social Security Disability Payments!


By Angela Allenangelaallen

IdeAbility, Inc.,
640 S. Hebron Ave., Evansville IN 47714 


There’s a small Kindle book about the ten main issues for SSI recipients (also available in Spanish!), called:
“SSI: The Ten Most Important Things You Need to Know.”  That book came out first this year, before Win Your Benefits! (but after leaving the Social Security Administration).
These columns with the City-County Observer are a big “thank you” to the Tri-State (and to CCO!) for your tremendous support of the books!

After eight years with the agency, I saw vivid writing on the wall that things were about to get seriously squeezed for anyone trying to get information (in spite of Commissioner Astrue’s fantastic efforts at making the web site powerful, info-packed and responsive).  So, I left the agency, and wrote and published “Win Your Benefits: How to Win – and Hang ON to – Your SSI and Social Security Disability Payments!”  I’ll be talking with Bob McCormick of KFWB Los Angeles again on December 19 about it (I’m on KFWB roughly once a month).

What will I be talking about?  Winning your benefits!  About SSI and Social Security!  Today’s column concerns SSI.  SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is needs-based.  The computation for how much you can get looks at household income and resources.  If the applicant is a child (probably mom or dad had filed on the child’s behalf), and if parental incomes and/or resources are high, there is no SSI assistance for the disabled child (so the application goes no further – it is denied in the field office due to ineligibility).

The child of high-income parents will need to wait until turning 18 to file because until then (the first month after attaining 18, actually), parental income affects the child’s SSI eligibility.  Something that usually (but not always) has a “watering-down” effect on that is if the disabled child has other siblings in the household (so if the parents are not low-income, and not high-resource, and if there are several children in the family, do consider filing).  My engineer friend Brian should create a slide rule for this.

For worried parents who have concerns about the future for their adult disabled children (long after they themselves have gone), it is a very good idea to talk with an estate or trust attorney.  That individual can help with legally ensuring that any assets remaining are used to provide for the care of their child into that child’s later years.


Last time we discussed a bit about resources and SSI resource limits.  The individual SSI resource limit is $2000, and this hasn’t changed in nearly three decades.  For a disabled couple, the limit is $3000.  However, for a child, the resource limit is computed a bit differently.  Bear with me: this may make your eyes cross, so please forgive me.

The child’s resource limit of $2000 is added to the parent resource limit (and whether the parents are disabled or not, they have a resource limit allotted to them).  The parent resource limit is figured this way: if there is but one parent in the household, then it is $2000, and if there are two parents in the household, it is $3000.  The child’s resource limit of $2000 is added to whatever the parent resource limit turns out to be and that becomes the total resource limit that is observed.

For example, if it is a two-parent household, then the child’s “household” resource limit is $5000.  If it is a single-parent household, then the child’s “household” resource limit is $4000.

You may un-cross your eyes now! 

Angela’s Very Quick And Basic Back-of-the-Envelope SSI Eligibility Self-Test

If you are eligible for food stamps, then you probably also meet the SSI guidelines for eligibility.  It is not an absolute certainty, but there is a strong likelihood.


So, what about being the mom or dad of a child who is disabled, or of a child whose development appears to be delayed (perhaps by a disability)? What if your child has experienced the sudden onset of a disabling condition from an accident? Or, what if the child has had a disabling condition since birth?

In 1990, the laws covering disabled children were changed (“Zebley” cases). Conditions that couldn’t “be seen” or otherwise weren’t plainly evident, started to get some long overdue attention.

Children’s disabilities began to be determined on a “non-adult” scale (as in, not work-related). Before that time (before “Zebley”), children’s disabilities that tended to be physical and keenly evident (profound mental delay or cerebral palsy, for example) formed the bulk of SSI cases. After 1990, conditions that weren’t so easy to see (but probably very visible to any parent) began getting their due. These conditions include attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and others.  There’s much more on these cases in the book, “Win Your Benefits!” – in both the 2013 version as well as “WYB 2.0” for 2014.

Please Note: If your child receives a Social Security payment from a retired, disabled or deceased parent’s work record, this is not SSI (nor is it “disability”).  If your child is disabled and if you are high income or high resource: please remember to apply for SSI for that child upon his or her reaching eighteen (and ideally, the month right after turning eighteen).

(Side note: At that point, if the child has a parent who receives Social Security retirement or disability payments (or if the child has a deceased parent who was covered for Social Security), there is another application that needs to be taken –it is called CDBD/CDBR –disabled adult child (aka “DAC”).  More on that in the book and also at Social Security’s web site.)

And, more on SSI, children and parents next time, in this CCO column.  I also VERY much want to get into a subject that is very near and dear to my heart: the intersection of SSI and Social Security.  In particular, individuals still receiving SSI who were 1973 – 1974 “welfare conversions” – (I consult with law offices who find these cases buried in their files)!  Why is that last subject important?  Because it could mean a great deal of backpay for those individuals for their “DAC / CDBR” claims.