Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

What is SSI?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a social safety-net program administered by the federal government. It provides financial assistance to low-income people with limited resources who are elderly, blind, or disabled and who don’t have a substantial employment record. SSI benefits are also available to children who are disabled.

A different program is available for qualified workers whose disability prevents them from continuing in gainful employment.

The SSI program supplies funds for basic needs like food and housing to people whose resources and income fall below the cap set annually by the federal government. To qualify in 2021, an individual’s monthly income cannot exceed $794, but not all income is counted. Instead, there are complicated rules that categorize what income is or is not countable. For example, payments from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) do not count as income. Applicants who are blind are subject to different income rules than sighted people.

An advocate experienced in handling SSI claims understands the rules and procedures for eligibility and can help you determine if you are financially eligible. Disability Help Today LLC connects you with a disability professional to guide you through the process from the first step. We partner only with the experienced representatives and non-lawyer advocates.

What qualifies as a disability in SSI?

For you to qualify for SSI payments, you must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, or an emotional or learning problem, that causes you to be unable to perform “substantial gainful activity.” To qualify, the impairment must have lasted or be expected to last at least 12 months or to result in death.

Finding out if your disability will qualify under SSI rules can be confusing because there are literally hundreds of different illnesses and impairments or combinations of problems that must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes a particular disability is so clearly qualified that the process of granting benefits is accelerated in light of the severity of the applicant’s condition.

It is important to consult with someone who knows the required policies and procedures. They understand how an application that is clear, complete, and supported by the medical evidence has the best chance for a speedy decision.

How is SSI different from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

SSI and SSDI both provide payments to support people with disabilities who are unable to engage in gainful employment. But the two programs have important differences.

SSI eligibility depends on an applicant’s income and financial resources. The benefits are available only to those who pass a “means test.” If you have countable income or resources higher than a relatively low set amount, you don’t qualify. SSI does not have a waiting period before benefits are paid. For medical expenses, SSI recipients are eligible for Medicaid. The money paid to SSI recipients comes from the general treasury of the federal government and not from the payroll taxes that fund Social Security.

By contrast, an SSDI applicant is eligible if they have worked long enough to earn the minimum number of credits and they have a qualifying disability. Eligibility for SSDI benefits is open to applicants of any income level and the benefits include higher payments than you receive under SSI. Another difference between the two programs is that SSDI recipients gain access to Medicare rather than Medicaid. The funds for these benefits come from the Social Security Disability Trust Fund.

You should also know that SSDI has a five-month waiting period between your date of disability and your first payment. SSI has no such waiting period. If your income is low enough during the five months you are waiting for your first SSDI payment, you may be eligible to receive SSI payments instead.

Do I need a lawyer to apply?

No. But if you think you qualify to receive SSI benefits, you want your application to be granted as quickly as possible. Although you can apply for benefits without professional help, collecting all the medical records and information necessary to fully complete the forms can be a daunting task.

The services of an experienced Social Security lawyer or non-lawyer advocate who concentrates in Social Security practice is extremely valuable. An experienced Social Security practitioner makes sure your case is not delayed because of missing records or denied because a key issue or argument was overlooked. The government rules and regulations that affect SSI and SSDI eligibility are complex and confusing making it essential for you to be represented by someone with a thorough knowledge and understanding of them.

The representatives and advocates available through the Disability Help Today LLC network are experienced in filing SSI and SSDI claims. They not only do all the preparatory work, all the filing, and all the follow up for you, but you will pay nothing unless and until your benefits are granted. A lawyer or advocate who helps disability applicants will answer all your questions and explain any part of the program that’s unclear to you.

What happens if my SSI claim is denied?

If your initial SSI claim is denied, don’t give up. A claim denial can be appealed within 60 days, and there are further levels of appeal and review available beyond that. The appeal process can be very stressful without an experienced lawyer or advocate involved in providing the response to the denial in an effective and persuasive way.

The Social Security Administration includes a large number of Administrative Law Judges who review cases in detail to ensure that qualified disabled applicants are granted benefits and those who are ineligible are denied. The quality, organization, completeness, and persuasiveness of your appeal documents often dictate what decision the judge issues.

As many as 65-70% of first-time applications are denied. There are many reasons for the high number of failed applications. First, let’s remember that many people apply for benefits they don’t qualify for, and others even file fraudulent claims. The most common reasons for a denial at the initial stage is an incomplete application and a failure to submit enough medical evidence to support the claim.

Getting disability help from an experienced Social Security advocate or representative prevents needless delays and refiling that occur when someone unfamiliar with the requirements compiles the documents. Understanding the process and what is required for a successful result is acquired through years of practice, handling different claims, and dealing with varying circumstances.

Disability Help Today, LLC specializes in putting skilled, professional help for filing SSI claims in touch with disabled clients. Clients from every state in the U.S. can be connected with a Social Security advocate or representative to assist you in preparing and filing your SSI claim and maximize your chance for a favorable result.



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