SSI Lawyer in Robertsdale, Alabama
Society has an obligation to protect and support those with little to no income. That’s the main purpose of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, managed by the Social Security Administration.
Through SSI, individuals who are aging or disabled may be able to receive benefits to meet their daily needs. However, it isn’t as easy as just reporting your disability and receiving income every month. You have to go through a lengthy application process and prove your disability before you can receive benefits. To learn more about SSI, and for more personalized advice on your application, contact Walton Law at 251-455-5819.
What is SSI and How Is It Different from SSD?
Supplemental Security Income is a program administered by Social Security. Those who qualify include those who are 65 or older, blind, or disabled. Benefits are also available to children who are blind or disabled.
SSD is funded by employers and employees. Every time an employee is paid, a portion of their income and their employer’s money is put into the Social Security fund. SSI, on the other hand, is funded by the general funds of the U.S. Treasury.
In order to get SSD benefits, you must have worked enough and earned enough credits to receive monthly payments. This requirement does not exist in the SSI program. Even if you have never worked, you may still receive monthly funds if you meet disability and income/asset requirements.
To start, you must prove that you are either aged 65 or older, blind, or significantly disabled. Proving the first is easy; to qualify for SSI via blindness, you must meet specific requirements for visual acuity or visual field limitations.
The definition for disability is a limitation that leaves you unable to do any substantial gainful activity and either:
- Is likely to result in your death
- Has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months
Substantial gainful activity refers to a level of work activity and earnings. It isn’t determined by how often you work; even part-time work can be substantial gainful activity. Gainful work activity includes:
- Work that is done for profit or pay
- Work that is generally done for profit or pay
- Work that is done with the intent of earning a profit
The process of determining whether or not an individual is disabled to the point of being unable to engage in gainful activity can take months. Those with certain disorders may bypass the wait via Compassionate Allowance. Compassionate Allowance initiatives allow those with certain serious disabilities to receive benefits immediately. Diagnoses and conditions that fall under this umbrella include acute leukemia, child lymphoma, early onset Alzheimer’s disease, and inclusion on the heart transplant wait list.
In addition to the disability requirements of SSI, you must have limited income and assets. Limited income includes money you get for work, money received from other benefit programs or loved ones, and free food or shelter. There are many exceptions to this, and quite a few types of income are not considered income for SSI purposes.
You must also have limited resources to receive SSI benefits. Resources include:
- Cash on hand, bank accounts, stocks, and bonds
- Land and homes
- Life insurance
- Anything that can be sold and used to meet your daily needs
Again, there are many exceptions to this. Before you rush to sell your assets so that you qualify, discuss your options with a lawyer. Too often, people sell off their assets and use them to live on, not knowing that they are actually exempt from SSI requirements. For example, the house you live in and one vehicle you use for transportation do not count against you for SSI. An individual can have up to $2,000 in resources before their resources begin counting against them. A couple may have up to $3,000 in resources.
What to Do If You Get Denied for SSI in Robertsdale
Many SSI applicants get denied when they first apply. Unfortunately, this is also where many people give up and stop trying. Don’t make this mistake! Many people who are deserving of SSI benefits are initially denied. Denial doesn’t mean you don’t qualify; it means that you did not prove your disability, and rather than research and dig deeper, the agency simply denied your case. This is common, as the system is often backlogged and there is pressure to move through the waitlist as quickly as possible.
Your next step is to hire a disability attorney. You have rights as you move through the application process, and an attorney can help you save time and minimize stress. Working with an attorney who works exclusively with disability cases is ideal, rather than choosing one who includes it on a list of a dozen other areas of practice. One who works exclusively in disability law is more likely to be on top of current issues within the SSA, well-informed regarding changes to the application system, and knowledgeable about what it takes to have an application approved.
Benefits of Hiring a Disability Attorney
Your attorney will be helpful in determining why your application was denied. In many cases, it’s simply a matter of providing more evidence of your disability. If you provide minimal evidence regarding your disability in your initial application, the person handling it is likely to deny it rather than request more information. An appeal is your chance to provide more evidence in the form of medical tests, doctors’ opinions, and documentation of your limited ability to work. Your attorney will also look for other reasons your application may have been denied and ensure that those issues are fixed before you appeal.
Contact Walton Law Today
We know the process of applying for SSI in Robertsdale can be overwhelming and mentally draining, especially if you have already been denied. That’s why we focus on disability law at Walton Law. We don’t believe anyone should be denied benefits simply because they do not know how to work within the system. Whether you are beginning the application process, or you have already been denied, let us help! Contact us online or call our team at 251-455-5819 to set up a consultation.