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What is 'deeming' in a New Jersey SSI application?

By now, regular readers of this blog are aware that there are some fundamental differences between the two main types of disability benefit programs administered by the Social Security Administration. Social Security Disability Insurance, on one hand, is available to those individuals who have a work history and have paid into the Social Security system and are now unable to perform substantial gainful activity due to disability. Supplemental Security Income, on the other hand, is reserved for disabled, blind or elderly individuals with very restricted incomes and resources.

As has been touched upon previously, the SSA will take into consideration certain types of income and assets of the applicant when determining SSI eligibility, while disregarding others that the law considers 'exempt.' However, there is also a process by which certain individuals residing in the same household with the applicant may have their incomes or assets counted against the applicant in determination of eligibility. This process is commonly called 'deeming,' as, in essence, the SSA 'deems' that those resources belong to the applicant.

There are two basic situations in which deeming comes into play for SSI applicants. The first is when a disabled child is applying for benefits while residing with one or more parents who are not eligible under the program. Basically, the SSA will deem non-exempt resources of the parents over a certain amount to belong to the child applicant. When a child turns 18, this deeming of income from the parents generally stops. The second common example of deeming occurs when an individual who would be eligible for SSI based on their own income lives with a spouse who is not eligible.

Determination of exempt and non-exempt income and resources in these instances can be tricky, and there are other calculations that may be involved, such as deducting non-eligible children from a deemed spouse's resource amount. For more information, New Jersey residents may wish to consider consulting an experienced disability attorney.

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