What You Need to Know About the SSI Application and Appeals Process
As Social Security disability (SSD) lawyers in Cleveland, Ohio, we encounter a great deal of confusion about Supplement Security Income. SSI is related to, but always dependent on, SSD, and qualifying for one type of federal benefit does not automatically mean qualifying for the other.
We welcome additional questions and offer free consultations to individuals or families who are considering applying for or appealing to receive supplemental income payments. You can schedule an appointment by calling (800) 678-3318 or completing this online contact form.
An SSI Applicant Has an Undeniable Right to Request Advice, Assistance and Representation From a Social Security Attorney
In Cleveland, across Ohio, or anywhere else in the United States, people who apply for SSI benefits can consult with or hire a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the program. Arranging for legal representation can be particularly important if appealing a denial of benefits. The reasons behind a denial are not always clear, and it sometimes takes a court cases to secure your payments.
Strict Eligibility Criteria Apply
You can only receive SSI benefits if you are eligible for other types of Social Security benefits and can prove that you are blind, permanently disabled or older than 65. U.S. citizenship and residency rules also apply and no one who is in prison or committed to a government-funded institution can qualify for SSI.
Most People Who Receive SSI Payments Also Receive Social Security Disability Benefits
While SSI is an income-based program, it is designed to support people who cannot work enough to pay for food and shelter. No one needs to apply or qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to receive SSI, but many people apply for both at the same time. And, as noted, proving that a permanent disability exists can be key to having an SSI application approved.
The Social Security System Asks SSI Applicants to List All Their Financial Resources
The SSI application must include details about all the following (when they exist):
- Cash held by the applicant
- Bank accounts in the applicant’s name
- Stocks and other investments held by the applicant
- S. savings bonds held by the applicant
- Real estate owned by the applicant
- Vehicles owned by the applicant
- Personal property of significant value such as jewelry and collectibles owned by the applicant
- Life insurance taken out in the applicant’s name
- Anything else owned by the applicant that could be sold for to cash to buy food and pay the rent or mortgage
Applicants should also provide information on their monthly living expenses, including rent or mortgage payments, total grocery and utility bills, loan payments, clothing expenses and entertainment budgets.
All Monthly Income Must Be Disclosed
All funds from work or benefits programs must be listed on the application. SSI payments are capped for individuals and families, and monthly income is subtracted from the maximum possible payment.
Note that no one gets rich on SSI. During 2018, the most an individual could receive was $750 per month. A beneficiary whose spouse also qualified for SSI could receive, at most, $1,250 each month. Still, the federal income supplement can make a huge difference in a disabled or elderly person’s quality of life.
Applicants Can Appeal a Denial of SSI Benefits Four Times
The Social Security Administration grants the following levels of appeals:
- Reconsideration — resubmitting the application, often with additional information
- Hearing by an administrative law judge — a review of whether the rules were applied correctly to all the evidence supplied by the applicant
- Review by the Appeals Council — a further review of the decisions made to this point
Federal court review — a civil lawsuit in which the SSI applicant sues the Social Security Administration