Baltimore Supplemental Security Income Lawyer Breaks Down SSI Qualifications and Benefits
A loss of income typically accompanies getting older or a disability. You may be aware that you qualify for benefits, but are not sure where to begin or which benefits you qualify for. A Baltimore SSI lawyer can help you understand the benefits you are entitled to and help you navigate the process.
About Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI is a public benefits program that provides income to those who have otherwise limited income or resources. In order to qualify for SSI, you must first meet the following principal criteria:
- You are 65 or older; OR
- Blind or disabled.
The age requirement is straightforward. The others may not be, depending on your case. Thankfully, you may meet the “blindness” requirement even though you are not completely blind. To qualify as disabled, you will need to demonstrate that you have at least one severe medical condition that is expected to last 12 months or more or result in death.
Baltimore SSI Lawyer Explains Income Qualification
In order to qualify for SSI, you must demonstrate that you have limited income. In order to determine your eligibility, the Social Security Administration will consider the following as part of your income:
- The money you earn from work;
- Any benefits you are receiving such as worker’s compensation, unemployment, Social Security, or private disability insurance;
- Money provided to you by friends and family
- Any free food or shelter that you receive.
The Social Security Administration will also consider your resources:
- Bank accounts
- Investment accounts
- Real and personal property
- Life insurance
Ultimately, the SSA will consider anything that can be converted to cash for food or shelter as a “resource” when determining your SSI eligibility.
To be clear, for most people seeking SSI, these factors likely will not disqualify you from receiving benefits. Instead, these factors will determine your monthly SSI benefit. The calculations are somewhat complicated, but an experienced Baltimore SSI lawyer will be able to give you an idea of what you can expect.
Applying for SSI and SSDI: Receiving Concurrent Benefits
If you are unable to work due to a disabling injury or other medical condition, you could potentially be eligible for both SSI and SSDI. If you can successfully file both types of claims, called filing a “concurrent claim”, you may receive what are known as “concurrent benefits.”
Baltimore SSI attorney Emmett B. Irwin can determine if you are eligible for concurrent benefits; and, if you are, he can help you file your SSI and SSDI claims. Although the SSA administers both of these programs, these programs are very different, and each has its own unique set of eligibility requirements.
SSDI is a disability-based program. If you have earned enough Social Security credits through your employment, you can file for SSDI benefits regardless of your financial need. In contrast, SSI is a disability-based and a needs-based program, and, to qualify, you must be able to demonstrate that you do not have sufficient financial resources to support yourself independently.
If you haven’t earned many Social Security credits or your wage before suffering your disability was relatively low, then your SSDI benefits might not be enough to fully meet your financial needs. If this is the case, you may qualify to receive both SSDI and SSI. The SSA pays particularly close attention to applications for concurrent benefits, so when seeking both SSI and SSDI, it is especially important to rely on the advice and representation of an experienced lawyer.
The Difference Between SSI and SSDI
It may help to understand what SSI is if we explain how it is different from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI does not have an age qualification and does not base your benefits on your income or other financial resources. Instead, SSDI is based purely on the fact that you are disabled and whether you have a qualifying work history. As a result, you may be able to qualify for SSDI even if you don’t qualify for SSI. A Baltimore SSI lawyer can review your case and identify which benefits you qualify for.
What to Expect from Your Disability Evaluation
When you apply for SSI and/or SSDI, a key part of the process will be your disability evaluation. This is when employees at the SSA will review your application and determine whether you qualify to receive disability-based benefits. At this point, you and your Baltimore SSI lawyer will have done everything possible to ensure that your application is as complete as it can be. You will have to wait and see whether your application gets approved or if you will be forced to challenge an SSI or SSDI denial.
Given the importance of the disability evaluation, even though this part of the process is out of your hands, it is still helpful to understand what goes on at the SSA. When reviewing your submission, SSA employees will be examining two key issues:
- Do you have a medical condition that meets the SSA’s definition of a disability?
- Does your disability prevent you from working to the extent that you need government assistance to maintain a healthy standard of living?
If you filed for SSI benefits, SSA employees will also be examining your income and financial resources to determine whether you qualify for SSI’s needs-based financial assistance.
To evaluate your SSI and/or SSI eligibility, SSA employees will thoroughly examine all documentation you submit with each application. They will review your employment and medical records, they will pore over every detail of your Adult Disability Report, and they will meticulously scrutinize your financial records to make a determination as to your financial standing. If they find that any documentation is missing or incomplete, they will most likely deny your application, and then you will need to file a timely appeal to avoid the need to start over from scratch.
The SSA informs SSI and SSDI applicants of claim decisions by mail within 60 days. If your claim is denied, you will have 60 days from the date you receive your denial to file your appeal.
What Do You Need to Know About SSI Wage Reporting? Our Baltimore SSI Lawyer Explains
If you file a successful claim for SSI benefits, you may have to report your household’s wages to the SSA every month. This SSI wage reporting is required for anyone who either: (i) earns income while receiving SSI benefits; or (ii) lives with someone (i.e., a spouse or parent) who earns income and who is ineligible for SSI. As the SSA explains:
“Because SSI is a needs-based program for people who are aged, blind, or disabled, the amount you can receive is based, in part, on the income available to you. Generally, the more income available to you, the less the SSI payment will be.”
Due to the needs-based nature of SSI, if your household wages exceed a certain threshold, this could reduce the amount you are eligible to receive, or it could potentially even terminate your SSI eligibility entirely. The wage reporting requirement is designed to ensure that SSI recipients do not receive more than the amount to which they are legally entitled.
If you need to report your wages to the SSA, you must do so monthly. The deadline is the sixth of the month (i.e., you must report your January wages by February 6). There are several options for SSI wage reporting, including:
- The toll-free automated phone number for the Supplemental Security Income Telephone Wage Reporting (SSITWR) System
- The SSITWR mobile phone app
- Fax or email
- Phoning your local SSA office
- Visiting your local SSA office in person
To properly report your household’s wages, you must provide various pieces of information. If you fail to report your household’s wages properly, this could result in termination of your SSI benefits—even if your income does not disqualify you from SSI. In addition to helping you file for SSI benefits, Baltimore SSI attorney Emmett B. Irwin can also help you collect the information you need to file your monthly wage reports, and he can provide you with step-by-step instructions to meet the wage reporting requirements.
What if your household income exceeds the threshold for SSI eligibility? If you are concerned that you may no longer be eligible for SSI benefits, you should consult with a lawyer before simply accepting the termination of your payments. Baltimore SSI lawyer Emmett B. Irwin can assess whether you are eligible to continue receiving SSI benefits—and he can also determine whether you have other options available. For example, you could be eligible for retirement or other benefits. Contact us today to learn more.
Why You Need a Baltimore SSI Lawyer
The Social Security system is complicated. A Baltimore SSI lawyer can help you get the benefits you deserve with minimal delay. Here is how an experienced SSI attorney can help you:
- They can help you collect the documentation you will need to make a successful claim;
- They can file all of the necessary paperwork so that your claim is handled properly;
- They can respond to and appeal any denials;
- They can represent you at any hearings and speak on your behalf.
In short, a Baltimore SSI lawyer can handle your claim so that you can focus on taking care of yourself.
Contact Baltimore SSI Attorney Emmett B. Irwin Today
The challenges that disabled people face are many and can seem overwhelming. That’s why we’re focused on helping those who need it most. If you’re seeking SSI or SSDI benefits, we can help – call us at 443-839-0818 or visit us online to schedule a free consultation today. We work with clients throughout Maryland and surrounding states.