Am I Qualified for SSI?

Aug 31, 2015

SSI, the much-more-commonly-used acronym for Supplemental Security Income, gets paid through the federal Social Security Administration to people who have low incomes due to their age or disability. Qualifying to receive SSI benefits requires proving financial need in addition to disability. Unlike the similar Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, however, SSI beneficiaries do not have to have paid into the system to qualify for receiving payments.

That certainly does not answer any reader’s specific question about SSI eligibility, but understanding what Supplement Security Income is helps with understanding whether applying for the benefits makes sense.

In essence, you must be blind, under 18 or older than 65 to qualify for SSI. You must also be unable to work or earn anything close to what you need to pay for housing, clothes, and food. Importantly, you can have some work-related income and other forms of federal and state assistance while receiving SSI payments. Each case is unique, so consulting with an experienced Columbus SSI attorney at Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman can help resolve any questions and avoid common mistakes that lead to rejections of SSI applications.

Basic SSI Eligibility Criteria

With an income exception for blind individuals, monthly earnings, other financial resources, and disability get considered equally when determining eligibility for SSI. During 2015, sighted people could earn up to $1,090 each month from work, retirement plans including Social Security, family contributions, or other disability programs without becoming disqualified for SSI.

When judging whether a person or family has adequate financial resources, Social Security looks at these holdings:

  • Cash
  • Investments like bank accounts, stocks, and U.S. savings bonds
  • Land other than the primary residence
  • Life insurance policies with values higher than $1,500
  • Personal property that can be sold for cash without hardship (e.g., collectibles but not a wedding ring)
  • Vehicles other than one car or truck used as the primary means of transportation
  • Monetary resources not held by the applicant but available to him or her, such as a portion of what a child’s custodial parent owns

The most recent caps on resources for SSI applicants were $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples.

Blindness, defined principally as vision correctable to 20/200 in the stronger eye, represents the surest qualifying disability. To count as a disability for SSI purpose, any other condition must

  • Severely and markedly limit a child’s mental or physical function
  • Leave an adult unable to earn enough money to live independently
  • Last for at least 12 consecutive months or reasonably be expected to kill the person

Citizenship and residency criteria also need to be met, but the specifics of those are too complicated to go into here. Suffice it to write that anyone who received U.S. citizenship at birth will meet this SSI eligibility requirement. All other people thinking about applying for Supplemental Security Income should speak with an Ohio Social Security lawyer.

Medical Proof of Disability Required

Federal statistics show that that roughly two-thirds of all SSI applications get rejected and that the top reason for rejection is lack of sufficient medical evidence. Decisions can, and almost always should, be appealed. Succeeding with an appeal requires presenting new, stronger proof of disability. Getting a skilled SSI attorney to help with this is strongly recommended. In addition to coordinating paperwork and providing representation during hearings, a dedicated legal advocate can put SSI applicants in touch with an expansive network of dedicated health care providers and assistance organizations.

Find the Answers You Need

Ohio Social Security disability attorneys in the Columbus offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman welcome opportunities to assist low-income families and adults with disabilities access the SSI benefits they must have to lead meaningful lives. We offer no-cost case consultations and can answer questions even for those we cannot take on as clients. Call (800) 678-3318 today or contact us online.

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