SSI Attorney in Bay Minette
Those living with serious disabilities do not have the same opportunity to earn an income as those without disabilities, and the Supplemental Security Income program is one way to balance out those inequalities. This program, which serves those who are blind, disabled, or 65 and older, provides ongoing assistance to qualified applicants. Funds can be used for housing, food, or any other necessity.
Applying for SSI in Bay Minette can be confusing, especially if you aren’t sure what type of documentation they’re looking for or how to prove your disability. We can help. Call Walton Law at 251-455-5819 for help with your disability application or appeal.
How to Apply
There are multiple ways to apply for Supplemental Security Income. Most people choose to do the process online, only going into the office when it is time for a face-to-face interview. Others go through the entire application process at their local Bay Minette SSA office. Note that offices are not always open for in-person applications, as is the case with the COVID-19 pandemic that has left SSA offices shut indefinitely. However, they do have appointments for those who need in-person assistance.
If you are applying on behalf of a disabled child, note that there is no online application for children seeking SSI benefits. This will need to be done in person or over the phone.
The SSA provides a comprehensive checklist of documentation you will need to submit with your application. This includes documents that prove when you were born, the extent of your disability, your work history, and your financial status. You will need to fill out the application, include copies of the necessary documents, and submit it. From there, the SSA will make its determination.
Proving Your Disability
Many people struggle when it comes to proving their disability. Many feel the need to hide the extent to which their disability impacts their life and make themselves look stronger. However, that isn’t necessary in an SSI application, and it can actually be harmful. Your SSI application should be completely truthful about your disability and its impact on your life.
First, note the difference in disability qualifications for adults and for children. An adult is considered disabled if they have a medically determined physical or mental impairment that leaves them unable to do any substantial gainful activity and is expected to last 12+ months or result in death. For children to be considered disabled, they must have a medically determined impairment that leaves them with marked functional limitations that are expected to last 12+ months or result in their death.
One way to prove your disability is to use the Listing of Impairments, more widely known as the SSA Blue Book. Impairments are divided into over one dozen categories. You qualify for disability payments if you have the listed impairment and meet the qualifications listed with it. However, note that the Blue Book’s qualifications are fairly strict, so this may not be an option for everyone.
You can also get SSI benefits if you can prove your disability is significant enough to keep you from working. You can do this if your impairment is not listed in the Blue Book or if it’s listed but you do not meet the criteria. This generally involves supplying medical records, proof of attempts to work, proof of the acceleration of your disability, and documentation of how your disability affects your life.
How Assets and Income Affect Your Application
The flip side of proving your disability is proving that you have limited resources. SSI is not designed for those who are able to provide for themselves through ongoing income, gifts from family members, or existing resources. Because of this, the SSA does check your existing income and assets before allowing you to receive SSI benefits.
Existing resources include:
- Cash on hand
- Bank accounts, stocks, and bonds
- Life insurance
- Personal property
- Any other items you own that could be sold
An individual applying for SSI may have up to $2,000 in resources and a couple may have up to $3,000 in resources. There are additional exceptions, including the home you live in, one vehicle that you and your family use, and personal effects.
- Earned income, which includes self-employment earnings, conventional wages, royalties, and workshop payments
- Unearned income, which includes Social Security benefits, pensions, disability payments, and unemployment benefits
- In-kind income, such as housing, food, or other assets you get for less than fair market value
- Deemed income, the income brought in by the spouse or parents you live with
Some income is exempt from SSI calculations, including the first $20 you earn in a month, the first $65 of earnings you bring in, SNAP, income tax refunds, and need-based assistance from a state or local government.
It’s important to recognize that the exceptions for both assets and income are very extensive. Before selling anything or dropping any source of income, please discuss your options with a Bay Minette disability attorney. People often underestimate how much is exempt from SSI calculations, leading them to get rid of items they could have kept.
What Do Recipients Get Each Month?
In 2020, the most an individual can receive each month is $783 and the most a married couple can receive is $1,175. That amount may be lower if you have assets or income that decrease your monthly payment.
Appealing a Denial
If you get denied for SSI benefits in Bay Minette, don’t give up and don’t lose hope. Most applications are initially denied, and many issues can be fixed with a simple appeal. However, you should discuss your options with an attorney. Unless you know what was wrong with your initial application, it’s likely that you’ll make the same errors on your appeal and get denied again. An attorney can figure out what went wrong with your application and ensure that your appeal is stronger.
How Walton Law Can Help
Walton Law focuses only on disability cases, allowing us to give the maximum amount of attention to each client we take. We know that SSI and SSDI payments are the difference between housing and no housing for many people, and we don’t want you to spend months waiting for a decision simply because your application wasn’t as strong as it could have been. We help clients both with their initial applications and with the appeal process. Our goal is to help every single client get the benefits they are entitled to receive.
Reach Out Today for Help with Your Disability Application in Bay Minette
If you believe you may qualify for SSI benefits in Bay Minette, don’t wait any longer to discuss your case with Walton Law. Give us a call at 251-455-5819 or contact us online to set up a consultation and discuss your next step.