SSI—also known as Supplemental Security Income—is a program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSA provides these benefits to low-income individuals who are living with disabilities. These disabling conditions must prevent that individual from performing any substantial gainful employment.
When a person meets the income threshold and qualifies as disabled, they could receive monthly monetary payments from the government. With the help of the right legal counsel, you could secure SSI benefits as long as you qualify.
Who Qualifies for SSI?
Not everyone qualifies for SSI benefits through SSA. There are strict requirements that come with qualifying for SSI benefits, and those that do not qualify are typically denied. While this program is considered to be a disability program, not all people who qualify are necessarily disabled. The qualifications are:
Age 65, Blind, or Disabled
Many people who seek SSI benefits do so because they are disabled. A disability is any condition that prevents you from substantial gainful employment. This generally means that a person is unable to maintain any significant level of employment.
However, there are other ways to qualify outside of being disabled. Individuals at or over the age of 65 could be entitled to these benefits. The same is true for an applicant that is legally blind.
One of the defining aspects of SSI is the limitation on an applicant’s financial resources. In order to qualify, an applicant must have limited financial means, which goes beyond what they earn in terms of income. SSA will consider their other assets, including property and investments. If their income is above a certain threshold, the applicant is not qualified for SSI.
It is important to note that these benefits are not limited to United States citizens. In some cases, non-citizens might qualify for SSI benefits as well. However, there are some limitations to be aware of. SSI benefits are only available to foreign residents who have legal status in the United States. Only certain foreign residents will qualify. Our firm could advise you on whether or not you meet this requirement.
Reside in the U.S.
These benefits are reserved for individuals living in the United States, including the Northern Mariana Islands. U.S. citizens who live abroad are not generally eligible for SSI unless they are children of military parents serving abroad or students studying temporarily in a foreign country.
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Are SSI Claims Automatically Granted?
SSA routinely denies claims for SSI benefits. This is true even for applicants who are certain they qualify. These denials can happen for a wide variety of reasons. In some cases, denials are made in error. In other cases, SSA may need additional documentation in order to make a final decision on an SSI benefits application.
The good news is that it is possible to appeal a denied claim for SSI benefits. You also have the right to hire an attorney to guide you through the appeals process. In total, there are four stages of this process. They include:
- Administrative hearing
- Appeals Council Review
- Federal Review
The appeals process begins with requesting a different party within SSA to review your claim and determine if the denial was warranted. If reconsideration does not go your way, it is possible to appeal the case up to the highest levels of SSA. If that is unsuccessful, you even have the option to file a federal lawsuit and request a judge to review your case.
A denied claim can be disheartening, but it is helpful to realize that many appeals are ultimately granted. An attorney could ensure you have the best chance of a positive outcome during the appeals process.
Is SSI Different from Social Security Benefits?
Although SSA oversees the SSI program, the benefits available through this program are very different from Social Security benefits. Social Security benefits provide monetary support for individuals who have worked long enough to pay adequate Social Security taxes. Unlike Social Security benefits, there is no work requirement for SSI benefits.
Instead of being funded through Social Security tax receipts, SSI benefits are paid out of the general fund of the U.S. Treasury. Because of the funding source, there is no requirement under the law that SSI applicants have a qualifying work history.
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Talk to an Attorney About Your SSI Appeal
Still unsure what SSI disability is? A consultation with an attorney might provide you with the answers you are looking for. For many people, the benefits that come with a successful SSI claim can make a tremendous difference in their quality of life.
If your SSI claim has been denied, the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine is here to help. Reach out right away to schedule your free consultation.
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