Am I Eligible For Supplemental Security Income?

More than 8 million people, including 1.2 million children, rely on benefits from Supplemental Security Income or SSI. This number seems impressive for the numbers being helped by this program. In fact, only 4 out of 10 applicants are actually approved. Only 26% of applicants get approved with their initial application.

While the program’s intention is to help those with permanent disabilities and low income, there are many who’re denied SSI payments and many more who need to hire an SSI attorney to appeal their application.

Are you wondering if you can qualify for SSI payments? Have you already applied and been denied and now need the help of a Supplemental Security Income attorney?

Read on to learn more about the SSI program and what it takes to qualify for the benefits.

What Is Supplemental Security Income?

Supplemental security income or SSI is a program run and supported by the federal government. It provides aid for US citizens who have both a low income and are blind or have a disability.

While the program is run by the Social Security Administration or SSA, it is not funded the same way as social security benefits.

While the program won’t take recipients above the poverty line, it’s intended as a last resort program to help those with little or no income and a debilitating disability that prevents them from working.

How Can You Qualify for SSI?

There are a variety of qualifiers for SSI and it can be a challenging and stringent program to get benefits from, which is evident by the number of people who are either denied or don’t qualify at all.

The baseline qualifications for SSI are that you meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • You’re aged 65 or older
  • You are totally or partially blind
  • You have a medical condition that prevents you from working and it’s expected to last more than a year or more

Children with disabilities can also qualify for SSI benefits. While the qualifiers are slightly different for children, they follow the same benchmarks. Children from birth to age 18 can qualify. If the child is blind, partially blind, or has marked and severe functional limitations they could qualify for monthly benefits.

SSI Qualifying Process

The Social Security Administration uses a five-step process to determine eligibility for SSI benefits. The first consideration is age. Are you 65 years or older? Of course, you can qualify if you’re under the age of 65 and the next steps will address those qualifications.

The next question asks whether you’re able to work at gainful employment. If you answer yes, you won’t qualify. If you aren’t working at employment, SSA would consider the next qualifier.

Are you suffering from some form of severe impairment? If the answer is no, you won’t qualify for SSI. If the answer is yes then SSI will want to see the documentation.

The next qualifier step asks if your medical condition meets SSA’s rules defining a disability. This is where the process can get complicated. You have to prove with your medical providers that your condition meets the rules of a disability. If you can show you meet the rules, you would qualify at this step.

If not, you’d get asked if you’re able to do any work that you previously did. If you’re still able to perform the work duties you once did, you would not qualify. If you’re unable to work at any work you’ve previously done, SSA will want to know if you’re able to do any type of work that “contributes to the US economy?”

If you’re able to perform any type of work that can create income for you, then you won’t qualify for SSI. But if you have moved through each of these steps showing your inability to work and having a debilitating medical condition you can qualify for benefits.

The Appeal Process

There are many people who apply for SSI benefits who’re denied. Many will file an appeal and work through the appeal process. Sometimes, the applicant is denied because they haven’t provided enough medical documentation to prove their disability.

In other cases, there are applicants who have a disability and will still not qualify. After the initial application where 26% qualify, another 11% percent can qualify on appeal.

Ultimately, 62% of applicants are denied after working through the process. It often requires hiring a Supplemental Security Income attorney to help you get qualified.

SSI Funding

SSI is run through the Social Security Administration but it’s not funded the same way as social security. Social security is funded through contributions made through payroll taxes. SSI is paid through funding from the federal budget.

SSI recipients can receive up to $794 as a single recipient or $1,191 as married qualifiers. You don’t automatically receive the maximum amount. SSA will consider your other sources of income like alimony or child support and adjust accordingly. SSA will look at your resources to determine both eligibility and your potential monthly benefits.

How Is SSI Different From SSDI?

While both SSI and SSDI are administered by the SSA, they have different qualifying requirements. Both programs use the same criteria for determining a disability.

Beyond that, SSI looks at income level and financial resources, while SSDI looks at your work credits over your lifetime.

Getting Help Qualifying for SSI

Knowing the statistics on qualifying for SSI, it makes sense to hire disability lawyers to help guide you through the process. If you haven’t started your application yet, an experienced disability attorney can make sure your application presents in the best possible way to get approved.

If you have already applied and been denied, now is when you really need help with the appeals process. Often hiring an SSI attorney helps because they know how to work with your medical team to provide just the documentation needed to get your approval.

Can You Qualify for Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental security income can be an important source of support for someone who suffers from a permanent disability and is unable to work. The process for qualifying can be tricky, but worth it if you’re able to qualify.

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