Four Requirements for SSI Benefits

Supplemental Security Income, also known as SSI, is a surprisingly large program that grants billions of dollars in benefits to Americans every single year. SSI is intended to help people who do not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSI) to get financial support for a disability. However, not everyone can qualify for SSI. Here are four requirements you need to meet before you can receive SSI benefits:

  1. You need to have a physical or psychological impairment
    • The first thing you need to qualify for SSI benefits is a physical or psychological impairment. Proving you have such an impairment is not as simple as getting a doctor’s note, though. If you want to get SSI, your condition needs to be independently confirmed by Disability Determination Services (DDS), which is a semi-independent state-run agency that performs medical evaluations on behalf of the Social Security Administration (SSA). They are ultimately the ones who determine whether you have a disability that qualifies for SSI benefits.
  2. Your disability must be bad enough that you cannot work
    • Even once it is confirmed that you have a disability, you still need to show it is bad enough that you cannot work, even with medical treatment. The determination as to whether you cannot work is based on your experience, education, and training, as well as the nature and extent of your disability. For example, someone who has worked in construction their whole life who suffers a severe leg injury may no longer be able to work. On the other hand, a paralegal who suffers the same injury can still do their job, and thus would not qualify for SSI.
  3. You can only make a certain amount of money
    • Aside from the medical requirements for SSI, you also must meet the economic requirements. This means you can only make $783 per month as an individual, or $1,175 per month as a jointly filing couple. However, that number comes with a lot of potential caveats, because not every type of income counts for the purposes of determining if you qualify for SSI. For example, the first $65 you make in a month do not count towards that number, and only half of the income you make after that amount counts towards the maximum. There are also extra allowances for students and people who are legally blind. Due to the complexity of these calculations, though, you may need an attorney to help you determine if you qualify for SSI.
  4. You need to be approved by the SSA
    • Once you have met all the above requirements, you need to make an application to the SSA for disability benefits. They are the ones who ultimately decide if you qualify for SSI or SSDI. You need to make sure all of your paperwork is fully filled out, and that all of your documentation is in order. However, even if you are initially denied, you may be able to still obtain SSI benefits through the appeals process.

If you or a loved one need assistance applying for SSDI or SSI benefits, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced Social Security Disability benefits lawyer. The lawyers at Sullivan & Kehoe, LLP have over 50 years of combined experience between its attorneys and are available to you or your loved one in obtaining Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits. To schedule a consultation with our New York Social Security Disability benefits lawyers, call (631) 823-7155.

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