At Affleck & Gordon, our SSI attorneys have extensive experience handling SSI claims and related matters, such as appeals and administrative hearings.
Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is a federal program intended to assist older and disabled low-income individuals. Unlike Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), SSI is not funded by Social Security taxes but, rather, general tax revenue. This means that you do not have to earn a certain number of work credits to qualify for SSI benefits, as you would have to in order to receive SSDI benefits.
If you need help seeking Supplemental Security Income benefits, we can help. No matter where you are in the process, we can provide the personal attention and counsel you and your case deserve.
You Deserve Dedicated Representation At Affleck & Gordon, we are committed to providing the highest possible legal counsel. We return calls promptly, keep you up to date on your case, and will always be there for you. We do not rest until you get what you deserve.
You Deserve Experienced Counsel With over 40 years of experience and tens of thousands of individuals helped, our team has the skill, resources, and determination to aggressively and strategically evaluate, understand and fight your claim.
You Deserve a Thorough Team The Affleck & Gordon team is not only committed to your case, but we are committed to you. We understand that this is your life and your future, and will diligently do everything on our end to obtain a favorable decision on your behalf.
You Deserve Financial Security Your case is important to you, and it’s important to us. It represents how you will or will not be able to take care of your basic needs, as well as those of your family, for the foreseeable future. We are committed to fighting for what you deserve.
The purpose of the SSI program is to provide qualifying individuals with supplemental income for food, shelter, clothing, and other basic needs. Some people qualify for SSI benefits even when they are already receiving another form of assistance, such as SSDI or VA benefits, in addition to retirement benefits.
Various factors influence the amount an individual can receive in SSI benefits. For example, some states supplement the federal SSI payment, meaning people in those states may be eligible to receive more. Additionally, an individual may receive less in SSI if they have other forms of income, including wages earned from work or substantial gainful activity (SGA), retirement or pension funds, or other Social Security benefits.
When determining whether an individual qualifies for SSI benefits, as well as how much to award in benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks at household income. Married couples may receive less in SSI if they both earn wages, or if one spouse earns wages and the other has a pension. If someone else, including a spouse or another family member, pays for an individual’s household expenses, such as rent, that individual may also receive less in SSI.
The SSA recently announced an increase of 5.9% to both SSI and SSDI for 2022 to keep up with the increase in inflation. This unprecedented cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) affects about 70 million people in the United States. For people receiving SSI benefits, changes to payments began in December 2021. For more information, contact our team at Affleck & Gordon.
How to Qualify for SSI
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has several eligibility requirements when it comes to qualifying for SSI.
To be eligible for SSI, you must first be one of the following:
- 65 years old or older
In addition to being one of the above, you must also be one of the following:
- A U.S. citizen
- A U.S. national
- A qualifying non-citizen
Lastly, to qualify for SSI, you must also:
- Live in one of the 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., or the Northern Mariana Islands (with some exceptions)
- Have limited income and resources (as defined by the SSA)
The SSA defines “limited income and resources” according to certain income and resource value thresholds. These thresholds change annually. In 2022, you cannot receive SSI benefits if the value of your individual “countable resources” exceeds $2,000. If you are married, you and your spouse’s combined resources cannot exceed $3,000 in value to remain eligible.
Applying for SSI Benefits
After confirming that you are eligible for SSI benefits, you can apply in one of several ways:
- Online: You can apply for SSI benefits online by visiting the Social Security Administration’s website, here.
- By Phone: You can call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to begin the application process. The SSA also offers telecommunications relay services; call 1-800-772-1213 for assistance.
- In Person: You can contact the local SSA office in your area and make an appointment to apply for SSI benefits in person. You can also have someone else, such as an attorney, make an in-person or telephone appointment on your behalf.
If you believe you are eligible for SSI benefits, you should apply right away. The SSA does not offer back payments; you can only begin receiving SSI benefits from the effective date of your application.
When applying for SSI, you will need to have several documents handy, as well as additional supplemental information that may be required with your application.
Some of the documents and information you will need include:
- Your Social Security number or card
- Proof of your age, such as a birth certificate
- Proof of citizenship or alien status, such as a passport or green card
- Proof of your income, such as payroll stubs, tax returns, or unearned income records
- Proof of your resources, such as bank account statements, real estate deeds, and life insurance policy information
- Proof of your living arrangement, such as a rental agreement or lease, property tax bills, deeds, and information regarding household costs/members
- Information regarding your work history, including past job titles, employers, work dates, and descriptions of job duties (if applicable)
- Medical reports, doctors’ information, medication information, and other medical sources (if filing as disabled or blind)
This is not a complete list; you may be required to provide additional documents and information when applying for SSI. Affleck & Gordon can help you prepare your application and ensure that you have everything you need before you submit your claim.
Can You Appeal a Denied SSI Claim?
If your SSI claim is denied, you can appeal this decision. The process of appealing a denied SSI claim is very similar to that of appealing a denied SSDI claim.
There are four steps to appealing a denied SSI claim:
- First, you may request a reconsideration. If your claim was denied on medical grounds, you can request a reconsideration for a medical determination. If your claim was denied for any other reason, such as issues with your income or resources, you can request a reconsideration for a non-medical determination. If the SSA grants your request for a reconsideration, it will evaluate the same evidence used in your initial claim, along with any new evidence you submit to decide on your case.
- If you disagree with the SSA’s decision after the reconsideration, or if the SSA denies your request for a reconsideration, you may request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). At the hearing, you and your legal counsel have the opportunity to present evidence in support of your claim. Additionally, the SSA can present evidence against your claim to the ALJ. After the hearing, the ALJ will decide on your case and either uphold the initial denial of benefits or reverse it and award you benefits.
- If you are not satisfied with the ALJ’s decision on your case, you can request a review of your claim by the Social Security Appeals Council. Generally speaking, the Appeals Council only grants requests for reviews when it finds that the ALJ (or another party) made an error or failed to act according to Social Security laws or regulations. In some cases, the Appeals Council reverses the ALJ’s decision; in others, it sends the case back to the ALJ for further review.
- If you disagree with the outcome of the Appeals Council’s review, or if the Appeals Council denied or dismissed your request, you can file a claim in federal court. This is the final step in the appeals process. You should absolutely hire an attorney at this stage if you have not done so already. It is strongly recommended that you hire an attorney to assist you with the appeals process from the very beginning.
Why Are SSI Claims Denied?
Many SSI claims are denied, especially for first-time applicants. However, this does not mean that you should give up if your SSI claim was denied. In fact, your claim denial may be based on an error that could be resolved during an appeal.
Some of the most common reasons that SSI claims are denied include:
- The applicant does not have a qualifying disability
- The applicant’s income exceeds the income threshold limit
- The applicant’s countable resources exceed the resource value limit
- The applicant is not a U.S. citizen or qualifying alien
- The applicant failed to provide the necessary documents or information
- The applicant missed a deadline in the application process
- The applicant is too young to receive SSI benefits
- The Social Security Administration (SSA) found that the applicant could return to their previous employment
- The applicant did not attend the required consultative exam (CE)
No matter the reason a claim is denied, it is always better to appeal rather than start the process over. If your SSI claim has been denied, we strongly encourage you to reach out to our firm for the legal counsel and representation you need.
Contact us online or call (404) 990-3945 to schedule a free consultation today.
Are SSI benefits taxable?Unlike certain other types of Social Security benefits, such as retirement and disability benefits, SSI benefits are not taxable. You do not have to pay taxes on SSI payments you receive.
Will the Social Security Administration check my bank accounts?
Yes, the SSA will check your bank accounts when you apply for SSI benefits. This is done to verify the information you have provided regarding your income and countable resources. The SSA can also check your bank accounts when you experience certain life events that may affect your income and/or resources. Examples include getting married, getting divorced, moving, starting a new job, changing or leaving your job, and more.
Do all of my personal belongings count as "resources" for SSI?
No, the Social Security Administration does not account for all personal belongings when determining whether a person has limited resources for the purpose of awarding SSI benefits. While some personal effects may count toward your overall countable resources, others do not. Additionally, the SSA does not consider your primary home, the land your primary home is on, your primary vehicle, and certain other resources as “countable.”
Can I work and still receive SSI benefits?
You may be eligible for SSI benefits if you work—as long as your income falls below the Social Security Administration’s stated income threshold. This threshold changes each year. For 2022, you cannot earn more than $861 per month if single or $1,281 per month combined if married. If you earn more than this, you will not qualify for SSI.
My SSI application was denied. What now?
If your SSI claim was denied, you have 60 days from the date on which you received notice of your claim denial to file an appeal. It is strongly recommended that you work with an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the appeals process. There are several steps involved, as well as numerous deadlines and required documents you must gather to appeal a denied SSI claim. Our team at Affleck & Gordon can assist you in this process and work to protect your rights every step of the way.
Do I qualify for SSI?
To qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you must be at least 65 years old, blind, or disabled. To be considered “disabled,” your medical condition must meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of “disability.” Additionally, to qualify for benefits, you must also be a U.S. citizen, national of the U.S., or eligible non-citizen; reside in one of the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands; and have limited income and resources. For help determining whether you qualify for SSI, contact the team at Affleck & Gordon and request a free, no-obligation consultation.
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“I filed for SSDI and had to appeal, so I hired Affleck & Gordon. The attorneys talked to me with the utmost respect and treated me like I was actually someone, not just a number.”R. Duff
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“I would like to thank Affleck & Gordon for representing me in my SSDI case. They are professional and caring and were always available when I had questions and concerns. Even during a pandemic, they got the job done for me.”T. Curtis
The Social Security Administration (SSA) looks at certain resources to determine whether an individual has limited income and resources for the purpose of awarding SSI benefits. Not all personal property and belongings are considered “countable,” however.
The following resources are not considered “countable” by the SSA and, therefore, do not count toward the SSI “limited resources” threshold:
- A primary home or the land on which the residence is built
- A single vehicle used primarily for transportation
- Personal items and various household goods
- Life insurance policies that do not exceed $1,500 in combined value
- Burial plots, including family burial plots, and burial expenses up to $1,500
- Property used for a trade, job, or business purposes
- Funds set aside in specific programs for certain individuals
Meanwhile, some examples of resources that generally do count toward the SSA’s limited resources threshold include:
- Cash and bank accounts
- Land other than the land on which a primary residence is built
- Mutual funds
- U.S. savings bonds
- Second and subsequent vehicles
- Vehicles that are not used by the household for transportation
- Life insurance over $1,500 in combined face value
- Some personal property
- Items that could be sold or otherwise changed to funds for basic needs
The SSA also recognizes “deemed resources,” which are certain percentages of a spouse’s, parent’s, parent’s spouse’s, alien’s sponsor’s, or alien’s sponsor’s spouse’s resources.
Founded in 1977, our firm has decades of experience helping individuals and families throughout Georgia obtain disability benefits. We know the system inside and out, and we have what it takes to effectively protect your rights as you seek the fair SSI benefits you are owed.
We are here to answer your questions and address all of your concerns. We know that this is a stressful time in your life, which is why we do everything we can to make the legal process easier for you. Our team will respond quickly to your calls, emails, and texts. We prioritize client communication and service, and you can always count on our SSI attorneys to be there for you when you need them most.
We are prepared to assist you with every aspect of your claim. Whether you need help determining if you are eligible for SSI benefits, are concerned about the application process, or have had your claim denied and wish to file an appeal, reach out to Affleck & Gordon today to learn how we can help.