If you have questions about SSI eligibility, contact Affleck & Gordon and set up an appointment for a complimentary consultation with an attorney at our firm.
Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is a federal program operated by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provides monthly benefits to people who are 65 or older, blind, or disabled and who have “limited” income and resources. The purpose of SSI is to assist these individuals with costs related to providing for basic needs, such as food, housing, and clothing.
Filing for SSI involves careful preparation of your claim, including numerous supporting documents and evidence that proves you qualify for benefits. Even qualified candidates often have their initial SSI claims denied. It is important that you work with an experienced disability lawyer, like those at Affleck & Gordon, to avoid making any mistakes that could jeopardize your benefits.
How to Apply for SSI Benefits
Before applying for SSI benefits, you should first ensure that you meet the SSA’s eligibility requirements. Unlike Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you do not need to have earned any work credits to qualify for SSI. In fact, you do not necessarily need any work history to be eligible for SSI benefits.
To be eligible for SSI, you must:
- Be at least 65 years old, blind, or disabled
- Have limited income and resources, as defined by the SSA
- Be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or qualifying alien
You may also need to meet additional requirements before qualifying for SSI benefits.
Once you have determined that you are eligible for SSI, you can apply in one of the following ways:
- Online on the SSA’s website, here.
- By calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778)
- By calling your local SSA office and scheduling an in-person appointment
You will need to submit various documents with your application, such as medical records, proof of citizenship or qualifying alien status, proof of residency, and information regarding your resources and/or income (if you earn any), among others. We recommend that you work with a Columbus SSI lawyer at our firm for help preparing your application.
Although most first-time SSI applications are denied, properly preparing your claim can help you avoid errors, missed deadlines, and other mistakes that could negatively impact your claim. Our attorneys have extensive experience preparing and filing SSI claims. We know what to do and what to avoid when submitting a claim, and we can assist you in taking the next steps if your application is denied. Throughout the process, we will remain consistently available to you, ready to answer your questions and address all of your concerns regarding your benefits, your claim, and more.
Why Does the SSA Deny Disability Claims?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) denies most—about 60%—first-time Social Security disability claims.
The SSA denies claims for many reasons, including but not limited to:
- Eligibility issues
- Insufficient evidence
- Application errors
- Too much income
- Too many resources
- Medical condition does not qualify as a disability
- Ability to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA)
- Missed deadlines
- Inability to locate the claimant
- Missing or insufficient medical records or information
- Lack of cooperation from the claimant
- Failure to attend a consultative examination (CE)
- Failure to follow prescribed treatment/therapy
The SSA will also deny claims where the individual’s disability or impairment is based on alcoholism or drug addiction, or when the claimant has been convicted of certain criminal offenses. Evidence of fraud will also result in a claim denial and/or termination of benefits, as well as possible criminal prosecution.
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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
If the SSA denies your Supplemental Security Income claim, you have the right to file an appeal. This is the best way to continue seeking benefits, versus reapplying or restarting the process. By appealing, you have the opportunity to request a reconsideration and/or review of your application. You may also be permitted to submit additional or new evidence in support of your initial claim.
There are four steps involved in appealing a denied SSI claim:
- Administrative hearing
- Appeals Council review
- Federal court case
You have just 60 days after receiving the official notice that your claim was denied to file an appeal. The first step is requesting a reconsideration, or a secondary review of your claim by a new individual. You can also request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ), where you and your legal counsel can present further evidence in support of your claim.
If you disagree with the ALJ’s decision after the hearing, you can request a review by the SSA’s Appeals Council. The Appeals Council generally only grants reviews when it finds that an error was made or when there may be a substantial difference in opinion that could affect the outcome of the claim.
Most often, the Appeals Council’s decision effectively closes your case. However, if you believe an error was made, you may file a claim in civil federal court. This is the last step in the appeals process.
At Affleck & Gordon, we help our clients with every aspect of their SSI claims, including but not limited to:
- Determining whether they are eligible for benefits
- Preparing applications and supporting evidence
- Filing claims online, by phone, by mail, or in person
- Providing additional supplemental evidence as needed
- Preparing for and attending consultative examinations (CEs)
- Appealing denied claims, including requesting reconsiderations, administrative hearings, and Appeals Council reviews
- Filing civil claims in federal court
The process of seeking SSI benefits can be challenging, complex, and time-consuming. If your claim is denied, it is in your best interests to work with a qualified SSD attorney who can help you file your appeal. However, even if you have yet to submit your application, it is smart to hire an attorney. An attorney can review your claim and make sure you have all of the necessary documents in order before you file. This can help you avoid mistakes and make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.
Our firm has been serving aged and disabled individuals, workers, and veterans, as well as their families, throughout Georgia for more than 45 years. We have the experience necessary to guide you through the Social Security disability process and seek the fair SSI benefits you are owed.
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 45 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.