You can apply for Social Security disability if you have enough work credits paid in to the Social Security system and have worked a minimum number of years in the past 10. Social Security will examine your medical records closely and ask you to fill out numerous forms to support your claim. Fortunately, there is no limit on assets, including annuities.
Your eligibility for Social Security depends on two important factors: payroll tax contributions and work history. When you file an application, Social Security will check your records and evaluate your payments in to the system. You must have a minimum number of work credits, which are earned by paying taxes on $1,120 of wages (you can earn four credits in a year). You must also meet the "duration of work" test: you must have worked a minimum amount of time in the last 10 years. This minimum work duration rises gradually as you get older and averages about five out of the last 10 years.
Personal assets for disability eligibility have no limit. You may have annuities, IRAs, savings accounts, investment accounts — any form of savings — in an unlimited amount, and still file a Social Security disability application. Social Security will not ask you for any information on these assets before it screens your application. However, having resources can limit your eligibility for Supplemental Security Income or SSI, another disability program that is means-tested.
If you do not qualify for Social Security disability, you might still qualify for SSI benefits. However, SSI is means-tested, meaning you can't have more than a maximum amount of resources and still be eligible. For single people, that limit stands at $2,000; for married couples, the limit is $3,000 (as of 2011). Resources includes savings in any form, including the cash value of annuities, as well as non-exempt property such as a second car, rental property, jewelry and other valuables and investments.
When you apply for disability, Social Security will screen your work and payment record but does not generally verify your assets, trusting you will be aware of the resource limits for SSI. If you win an SSI claim, you will be asked to attend an appointment at your local Social Security office, where a clerk will take information about your bank accounts, savings and property, all of which will be verified. If you are found to have assets exceeding the resource limits, the agency will deny your claim even if you are found medically disabled. You will have to reapply at a future date when your resources fall under the limits.
Founder/president of the innovative reference publisher The Archive LLC, Tom Streissguth has been a self-employed business owner, independent bookseller and freelance author in the school/library market. Holding a bachelor's degree from Yale, Streissguth has published more than 100 works of history, biography, current affairs and geography for young readers.