Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is needs-based federal assistance provided to people who are disabled and cannot work for a living. SSI recipients are usually children or adults whose disabilities have prevented them from ever entering the workforce. People 65 and older without disabilities who meet certain financial criteria also may obtain SSI.
But those seeking SSI benefits can encounter bureaucratic delays and mistakes that prevent them from obtaining payments they are due. An additional problem with the SSI program is the complicated and time-consuming application process. The process may be especially burdensome on people who are disabled or on family members who care for them.
Becker Law Office helps disabled and elderly residents of obtain the SSI benefits they deserve. We can ensure your SSI claim thoroughly documents your disability and financial need to the satisfaction of the Social Security Administration. Call us or contact us online today for a free discussion of your SSI claim.
Supplemental Security Income Eligibility Requirements
Supplemental Security Income is monthly payments made to people who have low income and few resources. It is meant to help recipients meet basic needs for food, clothing and shelter.
To be eligible, an applicant must be:
- Disabled by a medical condition that keeps them from working and is expected to last at least one year or cause their death, or
- Totally or partially blind, or
- At least 65 years old.
In addition, to qualify for benefits your financial resources cannot exceed $2,000 ($3,000 if you are married). If an applicant is younger than 18, their parents’ assets are taken into consideration.
The calculation of your financial resources will include your savings, stocks, bonds and other assets, but not all of your income or everything you own. The first $65 you earn each month and the first $20 you receive through other means each month are not counted. Benefits like home energy assistance and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) assistance, which many people know as food stamps, are not counted as income. A house you own and use as your primary residence is not considered an asset.
If you are able, you may do some work for money and still receive benefits, though SSI payments may be reduced according to how much you earn. SSI recipients can put some earned income aside for education tuition or a work goal in some cases without the benefit payment being reduced.
For 2019, the SSI benefit was set at $771 per month for individuals and $1,157 for couples. The amount is adjusted each year.
To prove your eligibility for SSI benefits, you must fill out multiple forms and provide medical records that prove you have a demonstrable physical or mental disability. Parents applying for benefits for a disabled child must submit an Application for Supplemental Security Income and a Child Disability Report.
If medical records show that your condition or your loved one’s condition matches an impairment in the Social Security Administration’s “Listing of Impairments” (also known as the “Blue Book”; Part B is Childhood Listings), benefits should automatically be approved. If the applicant’s condition does not match an impairment, you’ll need to provide medical evidence that convinces case examiners that your condition is equivalent to a listed impairment.
Appealing a Denial of SSI Benefits
If you have applied for Supplemental Security Income and been turned down, you are not alone. Many first-time SSI applications are rejected, and claim applicants often then find themselves in a lengthy appeals process.
You have four opportunities to appeal a decision regarding your application for SSI. At each level, you’ll need to file your request for an additional review within 60 days of receiving a decision about your claim.
The four levels of appeals include:
- Reconsideration. This is a second review of your file by a claims examiner who did not take part in the initial examination of your SSI claim. You may add to the information in your application prior to the reconsideration.
- Hearing. If you receive a denial after the reconsideration, you may request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Here you will be allowed to appear and present witnesses for your case, such as medical experts who have treated you.
- Appeals Council Review. After receiving a negative decision from the ALJ, you may ask the Social Security Administration’s Appeals Council to review your case. The Appeals Council may deny your request for a review, conduct the review and render a decision, or send your case back to the ALJ. You will not participate in this appeal and will not be able to submit additional evidence.
- District Court Case. After the Appeals Council reviews your file and an action it orders is carried out, you may pursue your claim one step further if you remain dissatisfied. This requires filing a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration. Your case will then be heard by a federal district court judge, and you will be allowed to present evidence and testimony. The SSA will also be able to present its evidence against your claim and to rebut your evidence and testimony.
In addition to the complexity of the SSI application and appeals process, it includes important deadlines that must be met or your case file may be closed. Benefit applicants are not required to have an attorney’s assistance until they reach the federal court level. However, the rules of evidence and procedure will be observed during hearings, and the SSA will send experienced lawyers to defend its case for not providing benefits.
An experienced SSI lawyer from Becker Law Office can help you with the complexities of the Social Security Administration’s disability claims process. Your Becker Law Office attorney can assist you with your initial application or one of our litigators can join your case during the appeals process. Our objective is to ensure our clients obtain the benefits they deserve as soon as possible and with as little stress on them as possible.
Contact Our SSI Benefits Lawyers Today
If you believe you or a loved one of yours qualifies for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a Becker Law Office attorney can help you file a complete and accurate application for benefits. If your claim has already been denied, you must file for an appeal on time or lose your opportunity to obtain benefits. Regardless of the current status of your SSI benefits application, the Becker Law Office can help you obtain a proper decision faster and with fewer burdens on you.
If you are disabled or elderly and in need of SSI, or are assisting a disabled person in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, or Tennessee who needs SSI assistance, contact Becker Law Office to discuss your case in a free initial consultation today.