What are the Requirements for SSI, and How Can an SSI Disability Attorney Help?
SSI, which stands for Supplemental Security Income, provides basic financial assistance to people of any age with disabilities or blindness and older adults without disabilities. To be eligible for disability benefits through SSI, you must meet certain requirements.
Understanding and applying for SSI can feel like a daunting process, but by familiarizing yourself with the requirements and seeking professional help, you can successfully gain SSI benefits. Here are the SSI requirements and how an SSI disability attorney can help you navigate the application process.
What is SSI?
Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is a federal program funded by taxpayers to assist eligible older adults, people who are blind, and people with disabilities who have low-income or few resources. The program provides eligible individuals with monthly cash for necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing based on financial need.
As a means-tested program, assistance is based strictly on financial need, meaning you must provide evidence of your income and assets before receiving benefits. The SSI program is administered by the U.S. Social Security Administration but funded by general tax revenue rather than Social Security taxes.
The application for SSI is also an application for Social Security benefits, and many people who qualify for SSI may also be eligible for Social Security. However, SSI differs from Social Security benefits in several ways.
If you are an adult with a disability, you can apply for SSI online. However, those who are under 18 and have a disability, or non-disabled people 65 or older, must visit their local Social Security office to apply.
A person must meet the following general requirements to be eligible for SSI:
- 65 or older
- Blind (any age)
- Disabled (any age)
- Have limited income from work, lack support from other sources, or need free food or shelter
- Have limited resources, including cash, bank accounts, land, vehicles, personal property, and more
- Be a U.S. citizen or national, or in one of certain categories of aliens
- Be a resident of one of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands
- Not be absent from the country for a full calendar month/30 consecutive days or more
- Not be confined to an institution, including hospitals or prisons, at the expense of the government
- Apply for any other cash benefits for which they may be eligible (i.e., pensions, Social Security benefits)
- Give the Social Security Administration permission to contact financial institutions and request financial records about you
- File an application
- Meet other requirements
You may be ineligible for SSI if you have a short-term or partial disability, if you’re in prison or jail, if you’re in a public institution, or don’t meet the alien status requirements.
SSI vs. SSDI
Another federal program, called Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), is often confused with SSI. While both programs are administered by the Social Security Administration and follow the same medical requirements, they are completely separate.
Unlike SSI, SSDI provides benefits to disabled adults and children who are insured, paid Social Security taxes on their earnings, and have limited income and resources. SSI benefits are available to individuals with limited income and resources who have never worked or don’t have enough work credits to be eligible for SSDI. Whereas SSI looks at an individual’s age, disability, and income level, SSDI is determined by a person’s disability and their number of work credits.
How an SSI Disability Attorney Can Help
If you have an illness or injury preventing you from working, both the SSI or SSDI programs can help you. The application process can take time and, unfortunately, doesn’t always guarantee you’ll get benefits. Working with a law firm with expertise in SSI can help you through the applicant process and increase your disability claim’s chances of being approved.
Beyond SSI requirements, there are many dos and don’ts, that without legal counsel, you may have trouble navigating on your own. Seeking help from an SSI disability attorney can help you prepare the proper documentation and medical records to prove your condition meets the Social Security Blue Book criteria.
An experienced SSI disability attorney from Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., understands filing a disability in Michigan and how to present evidence to get claims approved. By working with an experienced attorney, you’ll have someone in your corner during the application process and beyond who can demonstrate you are entitled and meet the SSI’s criteria for assistance.
With an appeal, an SSI disability attorney can also advise you and advocate for you, presenting evidence and preparing a brief that outlines your case to present to the judge that presides over the appeals. If your case is still successful after the reconsideration and hearing levels, your attorney can help you through the next stage: The Appeals Council and federal court.
Under federal law, the fees for disability lawyers are set. If your attorney doesn’t win your case, you will not be required to pay any legal fees.
How Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., an Help You
Whether you need help successfully navigating the SSI application process or challenging your benefits decision, Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., can help you ensure you get the benefits you deserve. Call our law office today at 866-MICH-LAW (866-642-4529) to set up a free consultation.