Supplemental Security Income Attorney 

Monroe, Louisiana

Legal cases involving Social Security disability (SSD) and supplemental security income (SSI) claims can get complicated. At Orum Young Law, our experienced and compassionate social security and disability lawyers will help you navigate through this challenging stage of your life. 

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Overview

The Social Security Administration (SSA) serves as the federal government’s primary agency which manages social security programs such as the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance or OASDI program, and the Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) Programs. 

If you have a disability or if there is a disabled member in your family, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are two SSA programs created to provide you with multiple benefits. For information specific to your circumstances, contact a disability lawyer within your area.

Quick Self-Check

If this is your first time doing research about social security benefits, you may be confused about the differences between the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

  • If you have been employed in jobs covered by Social Security and suffered a disability that affected your ability to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Read our comprehensive guide on SSDI to learn more about this program.
  • If you have little income or no work experience and low resources, you may be qualified to claim Supplemental Security Income. Read on below to know more about this program.

 

Difference between SSDI and SSI

Did you know that you can concurrently apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? As long as you are qualified under both programs, you may be eligible to receive SSDI benefits while receiving SSI payments.

If you have filed an application for SSDI benefits but also meet the requirements for an SSI claim, you may also submit an application under the latter while awaiting the decision of your claim. 

Although the benefits of these two programs are comparable, these two social security programs fundamentally differ in terms of who it intends to reach and where it gets the funds. While the often-cited gold standard for getting a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim approved is earned work credits, for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI), it is your income. 

The information below will help you understand if you qualify under the former, the latter, or on both programs.

Program Beneficiaries. While having work credits is a major requirement to qualify for SSDI the SSI program caters to those with little work history and belongs to the low-income group. 

Source of Funds. While the SSDI is funded by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes taken from every worker’s paycheck, the SSI funding comes from the U.S. Treasury general funds and not social security taxes.

Working Analogy

Think of SSDI as your “insurance”: you pay a premium every time you receive your paycheck, and later on, you receive the benefits once the ability to work has been limited. On the other hand, you can picture SSI as an extended help or charity which upholds the needs of the most vulnerable sectors in society. 

About the SSI

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The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is considered a needs-based program for people with disabilities or above the age of 65 who meet the income requirements and satisfy the needed medical evidence set by the Social Security Administration, the principal agency which handles this social security program. Cash benefits are usually applied to the cost of food, clothing, and shelter.

The SSI comes from federal funds and is intended for U.S. citizens, both children, and adults, with very little to no income and resources; and those who have disabilities. The disability should also be long-term (lasting more than a year) to qualify for application review. 

If you belong to the SSI’s list of intended beneficiaries, you will need to file an application with SSA and pass a needs test. Getting past this test requires submission of your income and resources documentation. The SSI council shall calculate what your household income plus personal and familial assets are worth, and check it against your state’s limits before coming up with a decision of whether or not you can expect to receive SSI monthly payments of a predetermined amount.  

The maximum amount of income or resources would vary depending on whether the applicant is an adult, a child, or a couple. Married applicants have a higher ceiling for the amount of property they can own since the assets of both partners are evaluated in an SSI application. There are certain income sources, income portions, and resources that are excluded in the SSA’s computation. Talk with a disability attorney to check if you meet the income requirements.

Target Sectors

In order to qualify for SSI payouts, you must be a citizen residing in the United States  or the Northern Mariana Islands. 

If you still have a pending citizenship application, are a U.S. permanent resident, refugee, or under military service, you may still qualify for SSI under stricter requirements. Contact a social security lawyer to know more about legal options for SSI noncitizens.

  • Disabled or blind adults. You must be a U.S. citizen between the ages of 18 and 65 years old and have blindness or disability. SSI monthly payments are only given to those who can prove to have little or no income and few resources as defined by the Social Security Administration. For blind applicants, special rules concerning being legally blind must be met.
  • Disabled or blind children. You must be a child whose parents are U.S. citizens who earn little income and have few resources. Depending on the applicant’s residence, an additional amount of money may also be given by the state. If you are blind, you must additionally show proof that you meet the legal criteria for blindness. 
  • People age 65 and older. Even if you have no disability, you may still qualify if you are a U.S. citizen age 65 or above, and have a total income and resources meeting the limits set by current SSI policies.
  • Special groups. Although the SSI mainly services the first three groups, you may also be eligible for a small benefit if you fall under any of these subcategories:
    • Residents of emergency shelter for homeless people
    • Those living in an institution due to a physical or medical condition and have Medicaid pay for greater than 50% of their total care costs

Automatic Disqualification

An applicant who fits any of the categories above who also matches any of the description below can’t get SSI benefits:

  • Incarcerated citizens or those with a record of any felony, warrants for escaping custody, flight to avoid (FTA) prosecution or confinement, or a flight escape.
  • Those in public institutions serving more than 16 persons (unless residence was due to educational or work purposes)
  • Individuals living in a rest home

Our Attorneys Can Help You With Your Claim

Speak with one of our attorneys today and get a free case review. Call us and find out what social security benefits you are entitled to receive.

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Disability Listing

To receive supplements to your income payments, you must match the SSA definition of a disabled person published in its blue book of medical condition listings. However, even if your disability is not included in the list, you may still petition for benefits if you can prove that your condition is comparable to one of those included in the blue book. 

The SSA technically defines being disabled as having a physical or mental condition preventing one from carrying out any substantial “gainful activity” (work) that persists for at least one year or leading to death. Since this determination gives plenty of space for argumentation, it is the SSA who ultimately decides who is considered disabled, based on all available medical data and opinion from its panel of medical experts. 

Social Security Listing of Disabilities

Below is the SSA’s listing of approved physical and mental condition categories under which disabled people may fall under. 

Disabled Adults. SSA approved list of impairments for adults include any of the following: Musculoskeletal System Disorders, Special Senses and Speech, Respiratory Disorders, Cardiovascular System Disorders, Digestive System Disorders, Genitourinary Disorders, Hematological Disorders, Skin Disorders, Endocrine Disorders, Congenital Disorders Affecting Multiple Body Systems, Neurological Disorders, Mental Disorders, Malignant Neoplastic Diseases/Cancer, and Immune System Disorders

In some instances, these medical criteria may be used to evaluate child impairments if the disease is deemed to have similar effects on both adults and younger children. 

Disabled Children. The following conditions are SSA-recognized child Impairments: Low Birth Weight and Failure to Thrive, Musculoskeletal System Disorders, Special Senses and Speech,  Respiratory Disorders, Cardiovascular System Disorders, Digestive System Disorders, Genitourinary Disorders, Hematological Disorders, Skin Disorders, Endocrine Disorders, Congenital Disorders Affecting Multiple Body Systems, Neurological Disorders, Mental Disorders, Malignant Neoplastic Diseases/Cancer, and Immune System Disorders

Remember, disability is only one component in SSI program eligibility. You will still need to match the income criteria before being considered as a qualified recipient.

Income Requirements

While Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applications greatly consider the credits you’ve earned from your work history, central to your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim is the calculated net worth of your resources and income.

What is counted towards income? 

For individuals, all the money you receive in the form of wages, pensions, or social security benefits; and things such as food and shelter, comprise your personal income. For an SSI claim to be approved, you need to be in a predetermined income limit set by each state. You can call Orum Young Law to know your state’s set limits and exemptions in the income computation.

For married couples, the spouse’s resources and income will also be considered in your SSI application.

For children below 18, resources and income of parents, those of a sponsor, and any income available to the child coming from any member of the household will be included in the computation. The total amount should not be greater than the limits set by Social Security. 

For disabled or blind people, the total amount of wages used to pay for services that enable them to work, such as a wheelchair or hearing aid, are exempted. The money used for training and work expenses like transportation is also not counted.

What is considered as resources? 

Your resources pertain to the things you own.  The SSI sets the maximum worth of resources you must have to be an eligible recipient. When you apply for SSI, the SSA will look into the following:

  • personal properties or family real estate
  • owned bank accounts
  • stocks, bonds, and cash
  • vehicles owned
  • life insurance
  • Other valuable assets

If you think you own a few too many resources, don’t lose hope. Social Security will not count the estimated value of the following assets toward the net worth of your resources: the home and land you live in, life insurance policies reaching SSI’s pre-determined cut-off, car or vehicles, burial plots (including those owned by the immediate family), and a certain amount of burial funds intended for you or your spouse.

SSI Benefits

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Successful SSI applicants may enjoy the following benefits:

  • Monthly payments to cover expenses for food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities (cash benefits may be received electronically, via direct deposit, or through a transfer account)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as “food stamps”
  • Medicaid which covers doctors’ fees and medical bills (if you have little to no income, this can be paid for by your state) after two years since receiving your first cash assistance
  • Help in paying Medicare monthly premiums or prescription co-payments
  • Eligibility for other social services program handled by your public welfare office
  • Free special services to help blind and disabled people find employment such as, but not limited to, counseling sessions, work training, and job hunt assistance.

Possible variations in benefits

Payment Amount. If you think that someone else is getting a higher payout than you, remember that the total amount of cash benefits vary from one state to another, and other states give extra help on top of what the SSA provides. The amount will also be different if you are married as compared to individual applicants. Once you receive the SSA claim approval, you may have to wait up to 6 months before the monthly payments start coming. 

Shifting from Child to Adult. When a disabled child receiving SSI benefits reach the age of 18, rules for adult disability will apply. Moreover, any child with a denied SSI claim prior to reaching 18 may now qualify for benefits as an adult. The income requirements for the now-adult child also changes as his or her personal income will be the only source considered in the required computation.

Application Checklist

Before reading the list of documents to prepare for your SSI claim, make sure that you’ve read the Target Sectors and Income Requirements sections above and have conducted a personal assessment on your eligibility to avoid wasting your precious time. If you want a quick and easy evaluation of your circumstances, contact Orum Young’s disability attorneys.

Make sure these documents are ready before submitting your applications:

    • Social Security Card or Social Security Number
    • Birth certificate or any other legal document proving your age
    • Proof of Residence and Home information (e.g. mortgage or lease agreement)
    • Income documentation, including but not limited to payslips, bank statements, insurance policies, a record of burial funds, income declaration, and other information pertaining to other possible sources of income
  • For disabled or blind people, medical records and contact numbers of hospitals, clinics, and doctors who can attest to your disability or medical condition
  • Documents proving your U.S. citizenship status
  • A bank credit union or savings and loan account number

Do you have all of these documents in your possession?

If yes, then you are ready to file a claim! Schedule a meeting with a social security & disability attorney to have your application reviewed and any possible concerns addressed. 

What should you expect when submitting your application?

Expect the SSA to thoroughly scrutinize every detail of your application and to request additional information such as medical information, and how it affects your activity or your disabled child.

Application Process

Initial Application. First, The process of applying for SSI payments begins by filling out the application form and submitting supporting documentation to your local Social Security Office. If you need help at this stage, you can always ask a Social Security Lawyer from Orum Young Law who can even review your application forms prior to submission. 

Appointment. Next, if your application is considered valid, you will be invited for an appointment with SSA personnel who will interview you to check you against all eligibility criteria, and request additional information should it be needed to validate your claim.

Decision. Almost half of SSI applicants get rejected on their first attempt, due to various reasons such as incomplete documents or missing medical and income records. 

  • If your claim is APPROVED, you can expect to start receiving monthly benefits as early as the month after your filing date up to six months after. 
  • If your application is DENIED, understand that this is a common scenario. You have the right to appeal the decision. The good news is that even if you were initially rejected, you will still receive all past-due benefits if you get approval after a reconsideration or hearing. Your disability attorney will guide you through the appeals process and will be your legal representative during disability hearings.

Reconsideration. Your denial notice will state the reason as to why your application has been turned down. You’ll also see a deadline set to submit a petition for appeals, which is called a request for reconsideration.

Orum Young Law Social Security Disability Attorneys

Regardless of whether you want to receive SSDI or SSI benefits, filing an application can be challenging and complex. Moreover, initial applications have a high record of getting denied. This is why you need to consider hiring a Social Security and disability attorney from Orum Young Law who can assist you in the claims process. Our lawyers will make sure that you have all the proper documentation to back up your claim, and that you will be properly represented during disability hearings in the off chance that your initial application is not approved.