What are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that supports disabled U.S. residents with limited income and resources in the form of monthly payments. Unlike with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), an applicant does not have to have paid anything into the program in order to qualify for SSI benefits. There are three ways a person can qualify:
- Be over 65 years of age.
- Be blind or partially blind.
- Have a medical condition which prevents them from working. This condition must be expected to last for at least a year or until death.
Qualifying for SSI
In order to qualify for SSI benefits, you must start by filling out an application. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider many factors, including an applicant’s income and assets. Those who are applying for SSI because of a medical condition will need to meet the SSA’s criteria for disability and provide substantial medical evidence to support their claim. If you are preparing to apply, our SSI attorney in Oakland can help gather the documentation needed for a strong application.
How the SSA Defines Disability
The Social Security Administration defines disability as a mental or physical impairment which prevents a person from engaging in substantial gainful activities (SGA). This essentially means that a person’s medical condition (or combination of conditions) must disable them in a work environment in order for them to be considered disabled. The SSA assesses medical conditions based on a code called the Listing of Impairments, also referred to as the Blue Book.
Understanding the SSA’s Blue Book
The Blue Book includes some of the most common and severe conditions a person may live with. Within individual listings, the Blue Book describes symptoms that can qualify a person for benefits. Bear in mind that the Blue Book does not represent every condition that exists; applicants who live with an unlisted condition—or struggle with a combination of impairments—can still apply for an ‘equal’ (medically equivalent) listing and receive SSI benefits. Working with an SSI attorney in Oakland can help you understand the listings in the Blue Book and determine what medical evidence needs to be supplied to the SSA.
Our Supplemental Security Income Attorney in Oakland
While many people are able to apply independently and receive benefits on the first attempt, this is not the majority of applicants. Most applicants will need to appeal the first decision made on their SSI application in order to receive benefits. Working with a qualified SSI attorney in Oakland can help ensure that your application includes all necessary documentation, cutting down on back-and-forth communication with the SSA and improving your chances of approval.
We can help you at any step in the process. Contact us today to schedule a free case consultation.