New Mexico SSD And SSDI Eligibility Attorney
Roeschke Law, LLC is dedicated to fighting for the rights of the disabled and their families in the state of New Mexico. We are well versed in the applicable eligibility requirements for disability benefits offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and have a proven track record of helping our clients obtain these vital public benefits.
Disability benefits under the SSDI program are available to individuals who have paid into the Social Security system through income tax deductions. These benefits are not “means tested,” which means that they are available regardless of your financial resources. Moreover, your condition must have lasted or be expected to last at least one year or result in death. Ultimately you must have acquired sufficient work credits, have a qualifying medical impairment, and you must be incapable of performing any substantial gainful activity (SGA).
The first test is whether you have earned the requisite number of work credits. The SSA relies on a formula that converts your earnings into work credits. In sum, $1,300 in earnings is the equivalent of one Social Security credit, while $5,200 in earnings is needed to obtain the maximum of four credits for the year. Generally, you need to earn 40 work credits to be eligible, half of which must have been earned within the last 20 years.
At the same time, determining whether you have earned sufficient work credits depends on a number of other factors. In particular, the SSA utilizes two tests – the recent work test and duration work test.
Recent Work Test
This test requires individuals in different age groups to have worked a certain number of years in a specific time period. Those who are 31 or older must have worked five of the last ten years, or have earned 20 credits. Individuals between 24 and 31 years of age, must have worked at least half the time since turning 21. Someone who is 29, for example, needs to have worked four of the last eight years, or have earned 16 credits. Finally, individuals under 24 must have worked at least one-and-a-half years in the three-year period before becoming disabled, or have earned 8 credits.
Duration Of Work Test
This test requires that applicants work a certain number of years, and earn a related number of credits, based on their age. As someone gets older, they need to work more years, and acquire more credits. Individuals between the ages of 21-24, for example, need to have worked at least 1.5 years and earned 6 credits. At the other end of the scale, individuals 62 or older need to have worked ten years and acquire 40 work credits.
Once you meet the work credit tests, your application will be evaluated for medical eligibility.
In short, your impairment needs to meet the SSA’s definition of disability: the condition has lasted, or is expected to last, at least one year or result in death. Moreover, you must have a “total disability,” which means that you are unable to perform any substantial gainful activity (SGA). Although you are permitted to work, there are limits to how much you can earn each month, and this amount is adjusted annually.
Finally, the SSA maintains a list of impairments that are qualifying medical conditions in the so-called Blue Book. If your condition is on the list, you will likely be eligible, provided that the other requirements are met. At the same time, you may still qualify even if you impairment is not listed, provided that it is “medically equal” to a listed condition.
At Roeschke Law, LLC, we are well versed in the SSA’s work credit requirements and can help you you determine whether your medical condition qualifies for SSDI.
Disability benefits under SSI are only available to those who are 65 older or blind, as well children with qualifying impairments. Unlike SSDI, these benefits are available regardless of whether an individual has paid into the Social Security system. In addition, SSI benefits are means tested, and the following income and asset limits apply.
- Income Limit: This limit is based on the federal benefit rate (“FBR”), which combines the SSI income limit and the maximum monthly benefit for individuals and couples. The FBR is adjusted annually if there is a Social Security cost of living adjustment (“COLA”). In short, your monthly income cannot be higher than the FBR, and the SSA includes the following income in its calculation:
- Earned Income: Earnings from work that is performed
- Unearned Income: Other benefit payments such as Social Security retirement, Veterans Benefits, pension, alimony, and child support
- In-Kind Income: Assistance from a nongovernmental source for rent shelter or food, such as living rent-free with a friend or relative
- Deemed Income: A portion of income earned by other people living in the household, such as a spouse
Ultimately, the SSA’s determination of “countable” income is complicated, because only a portion of your income is included and certain benefits are excluded, such as SNAP and Medicare, among others.
SSI Asset Limits
Because SSI is only designed for those with limited financial resources, individuals cannot have assets greater than $2,000, while the limit for a married couple is $3,000. Under the SSA’s guidelines, these resources include:
- Checking or savings accounts
- Cash value in life insurance policies greater than $1,500
- Stocks and bonds
- Motor vehicles (more than one)
- Real estate (non-owner occupied)
Certain assets are not included in the SSI resource limit, however, such as a home that is used as a principal residence, a car (only one vehicle is permitted), income set aside for SSI “PASS” savings, earned income tax credits, and child tax credits, among others.
Our experienced attorneys leverage their knowledge and skill to help our clients understand the income and asset limits relative to SSI benefits.
What Is A State Supplement?
Although the majority of SSI benefits are paid by the federal government, New Mexico also pays a state supplement to disabled individuals who are living in an adult residential facility or assisted living center. Single individuals living in a home are eligible to receive a $100 monthly supplement, while married couples are entitled to an additional $200 per month. The state also provides a $200 burial supplement to indigent SSI recipients.
New Mexico Disability Benefits Attorney
At Roeschke Law, LLC, we understand that obtaining public benefits under the SSDI and SSI programs is crucial for those who are coping with disabilities. We are dedicated to protecting the rights of the disabled, and helping them obtain the benefits they deserve. If your or a loved one is seeking disability benefits, we will work closely with you throughout the entire process and make sure that your rights are protected. Call our office today for a free consultation or complete the contact form on our website.