According to the most recently available data from the Social Security Administration, only a little more than a third of people who apply for SSI receive benefits based on an initial application. The Supplemental Security Income program has very strict requirements applicants must meet to qualify.
Working with an SSI lawyer or advocate gives you access to someone with knowledge of Social Security regulations and procedures to ensure the submission of a complete and accurate application that enhances your chance of success. The information in this article offers an overview of the program and insight into what it takes to qualify for SSI benefits.
What is SSI?
The benefits of SSI make it possible for people with limited income and financial resources to pay for food, clothing, and shelter. Adults and children who are blind or disabled and adults 65 years of age or older who are not disabled may qualify for benefits.
Depending on where you live, your state may offer benefits in addition to the payments you receive from the federal government through SSI. Those benefits may include medical assistance through Medicaid and food assistance through the SNAP program. Some states also pay a monthly supplemental payment that would be in addition to the payment you receive from SSI.
How to Apply for SSI
You have different options for submitting an application for SSI, including:
A). Apply online through the Social Security Administration website: Adults who are disabled or blind may apply online. After submission of the online application, someone from Social Security contacts the applicant to verify the information and obtain additional information that may be required.
B). Online application for children who are blind or disabled: Applications submitted on behalf of children are a two-step process that starts online with the completion of a Child Disability Report, which must include information about the disabling condition and how it affects the child. Submission of the online report is followed by a phone call from a Social Security representative to discuss its contents and the financial information about the household included in the report and continue the application process for SSI.
C). Applications over the phone: Applications can be submitted over the phone as an alternative to online. For adults, applying for SSI based on age and not disability cannot be done online, so the phone process would be the only method available.
The first thing an SSI attorney or advocate at London Disability does as part of the application process is review the eligibility requirements to determine if you qualify for SSI.
How to qualify for SSI
Your SSI advocate or lawyer will explain all of the requirements you must meet to qualify for benefits. To start, you must be 65 years of age or older or, you can be any age and be disabled or blind.
Claims for benefits based on a disability require that you have a physical or mental condition that prevents you from working. The condition must be expected to last or has lasted for at least 12 continuous months, or it must be expected to cause your death.
A different definition for disabled exists for children applying for SSI. A child must have a medically determinable physical or mental condition resulting in marked and severe functional limitations. The conditions must last or be expected to last for at least 12 continuous months or result in death.
The qualifying criteria for adults and children applying based on blindness are the same. The person must be totally or partially blind. Even if your vision impairment does not meet the criteria Social Security regulations set for qualifying as blind, it may fit the definition for a disability allowing you to qualify for SSI.
Another factor taken into consideration by Social Security in evaluating your application is the amount of income and the value of financial resources available to you. The value of resources, including vehicles, real property, personal property, and cash on hand or in the bank, cannot exceed $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple. You are, however, permitted to own one vehicle for personal use by you or a member of your household. If you own the home you live in, its value may be excluded from the resource limit as long as it is your primary residence.
Income from employment or self-employment and other income sources reduce what you receive each month from SSI. The maximum monthly benefit from SSI for individuals in 2021 is $794 and $1,191 for couples, so your SSI attorney or advocate would review your income and exclusions that Social Security allows determining whether you qualify for benefits.
Let an experienced disability benefits professional help
Before giving in to the temptation to apply for SSI on your own, speak to an SSI lawyer or advocate at London Disability. We know the Social Security regulations and how to put together an application and the medical documentation supporting it to give you the best chance of success when applying for benefits of SSI. Contact us now for a free consultation.