People who qualify for SSI have not worked long enough to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Payments are funded through the United States Treasury general funds, and most states supplement the base federal pay with additional money, which translates into a bigger monthly check in areas where the cost of living is high.
You don’t have to be elderly. You can get SSI while you are a minor or at any age where you are disabled and need the money to live. You must show that you have extremely limited means and cannot do any work. Proving that you qualify for SSI can be difficult, and you will probably need help.
Minimum Financial Qualifications for SSI
SSI requirements are stringent and very difficult to meet. You cannot have more than $2,000 in assets. If you’re married, the combined assets of you and your spouse must not exceed $3,000. Assets include:
- Money in bank accounts
- More than one vehicle
- Property, other than where you are living
- Investment assets such as stocks
- Household furnishings
- Life insurance policies
SSI Disability Requirements
There’s a long list of illnesses including mental illness that qualify for SSI. You must prove that you cannot work due to your condition(s). Some of the disabilities on the list are:
- Heart disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Liver problems
- Multiple sclerosis
- Panic attacks
- Bipolar disorder
The above list is not by any means all-inclusive but is a sampling of the kinds of disabilities that can qualify for SSI. The trick is to prove that your condition is disabling.
SSI Benefits and Addiction
People with substance abuse disorders cannot get SSI unless they are currently clean and sober. If your addiction has caused other chronic problems such as cirrhosis of the liver or anxiety disorder, you can qualify for SSI. In order to qualify for SSI, you must prove that you are not currently using your substance, and you may have to participate in a substance abuse program to do so.
If a therapist or doctor puts on your record that you are an addict, you must prove that you are clean and sober, even if you were misdiagnosed. Whether or not you are an addict, if a doctor or therapist says you are, you have to prove that you’re currently clean and sober for the purposes of your SSI application. The best way to do that is to go to rehab, either inpatient or outpatient. Remember, SSI is all about creating a paper trail to prove that you are disabled and that you are not contributing to your own disability by abusing alcohol or other drugs. If the paperwork says it’s true, it is true.
If you receive SSI, you get medical coverage through Medicaid. Medicaid is a joint state/federal program for disabled people. In 32 states, an SSI application also covers Medicaid. In the other 18 states, you must apply for Medicaid separately. If you work part-time, you can still receive Medicaid coverage in most states through a Medicaid buy-in program.
SSI and Working
If you can do some work and you earn over $1,130 a month, you cannot get SSI. However, you can work part-time and still receive SSI benefits. Also, if your condition improves so that you can work again but you need job training, you can continue to receive SSI payments while you complete a vocational rehabilitation program.
SSI applies a formula to deduct earned income from your monthly disability payments. First, they allow $65 a month that you don’t have to count. Then, they figure your monthly income after $65, half the remainder of your income, and take half of the amount you earn from your SSI check.
For example, you earn $1,200 a month working part-time. After the $65 allowance, your income is $1,135. SSI splits that number in half to get $567.50. They deduct this amount from your monthly SSI check. Since your state does not supplement the federal base, your monthly check is $733. After the $567 earned income deduction, you’ll still get an SSI check for $165.50.
How to Apply for SSI
You can call your local Social Security Administration to make an appointment, or you can complete an online application. Because of the volume of applications, more than 60 percent are denied. It is very important to make sure you have documented all the necessary records such as employment records, medical records and your financial statements.
Remember, the Social Security Administration is a bureaucracy, and paperwork is crucial to prove your claim. Your claim evaluator will look for any reason to deny your benefits. It would be a very good idea to call an experienced disability lawyer for a free consultation before you attempt to do this on your own.
You have to submit sufficient proof, including current medical records, which show you cannot work and have no assets. Just knowing what kind of proof is sufficient is daunting.
How Long Will It Take to Receive an Answer Regarding My SSI Claim Status?
You should receive an answer to your initial application within 30 to 90 days. If you are denied, and most people are, you can file an appeal. The entire process is complicated, and sometimes it takes years to finally get approved. Once you file an initial claim application, if you are denied but approved months or years later, you will receive back payments for all the intervening months from the time you became unable to work. It is crucial to go to the doctor and establish proof of disability and then to file a claim without procrastinating.
Why Do I Need an SSI Attorney?
Especially if you are disabled, you may not be up to the challenge of providing sufficient documentation to prove that you are disabled to a bureaucrat whose job is to deny your claim. An experienced attorney will know what it takes to get approved and can help you through the process. Remember, most claims are denied, and once your claim is denied, the process gets a lot harder.
If you have already filed an application, wait and see if you are approved. At this point, an attorney cannot help you because you’ve already filed your claim, and you cannot improve your application once it’s submitted. If you haven’t filed yet, it will cost you nothing to contact an Isaacs & Isaacs disability attorney for a free phone consult before you file, and this would be a wise choice.
If you are denied, you should contact an Isaacs & Isaacs disability attorney before filing an appeal. We can help you to know what documentation you must have to win your claim, and we will not get paid unless and until we get you your money.
Isaacs & Isaacs SSI Lawyers Are Passionate Advocates for Disabled Folks
Isaacs & Isaacs disability attorneys have decades of experience in navigating the treacherous waters of the Social Security Administration bureaucracy. We believe that folks who are disabled need to have an income to be safe and to be free of financial concerns, so they can contribute as productive members of our communities.
Just because somebody cannot hold a regular job doesn’t mean they don’t contribute to society in meaningful ways. Many people on disability do part-time volunteer work that people who punch a time clock are not free to do and make significant contributions to their families and other community services, such as religious and charitable organizations.
We are here to make sure that you have the money you need to live on and participate as valuable assets in our communities. We are on call to help you around-the-clock. Call 800-800-8888 for a free consultation with an Isaacs & Isaacs disability attorney.