At Baldwin Legal Services PLLC, we focus on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability law. We assist clients throughout Michigan with their SSI applications and appeals.
SSI provides benefits to individuals who have a limited work history and are suffering from a mental or physical disability. SSI benefits are also available to individuals age 65 or older, or who are blind. If you are in need of government benefit, contact Baldwin Legal Services PLLC at 877-886-1441 for a free phone consultation or submit a simple, free, and confidential legal consultation form. We can help you at any stage of your SSI application and claim.
SSI – How to Qualify
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a government program designed to help those lacking financial resources. SSI, like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, the requirements to qualify for SSI slightly differ from SSDI.
In order to qualify for SSI, you must be over age 65, disabled, or blind. Children who are blind or disabled may qualify for SSI benefits if they otherwise qualify. Many of its requirements mirror those of SSDI, such as the standards which are used to determine disability for adults. Children under 18 fall under a different category, and may qualify for SSI for a number of conditions which would not qualify an adult for Supplemental Security Income. A child’s SSI is generally paid to his or her parents or guardians, with the idea that the money will be used in caring for the child.
Where SSI differs significantly from SSDI is that the main criteria for disabled individuals to qualify for SSI is a demonstrated financial need. SSDI, on the other hand, is based upon each individual’s time spent working and how much income they made on average.
Assuming you are less than 65 years old, you will need to prove that you are disabled to qualify for SSI. If you are blind, this is relatively easy. If you have other disabilities, you will need to prove that you are disabled according to the SSA’s definition of long-term disability. The standards used to determine whether you are disabled include:
- Complete inability to perform any kind of work which you have ever done in the past.
- Must be deemed incapable of being reasonably trained and accommodated to perform any work available in the area.
- Must have a disability which is likely to last more than a year or result in your death.
If you do qualify for SSI on the basis of your disability, you can expect to have a continuing disability review periodically. The SSA will determine, based upon medical reports from your doctor (and sometimes their own medical experts) whether your disability has improved to the point which would enable you to perform any substantial gainful work activity. If the SSA determines that you have adequately recovered from your disability, you will be disqualified for ongoing Supplemental Security Income benefits.
SSI – How to Apply
The application process starts when you first contact the SSA. This is the date from which your benefits will be paid if you are found to be eligible. You should apply as soon as possible.
There are several ways to apply:
- You can go to the SSA office in person or apply online.
- You can send a family member or a disability lawyer as your representative. You must sign a form giving your written permission so the SSA knows it is all right to discuss your personal information with this person.
Before you apply for SSI, you will want to figure out what assets you own. You will also want to gather any medical records which relate to your disability, including what doctors you have seen, what medications you take, and what treatments have been prescribed. You will be asked many questions regarding your disability, your assets, and any income which you may have.
You should approach the application process with the full understanding that your initial application is likely to be denied, even if you have everything in order. Studies have shown that applicants with legal representation have much better approval rates than claimants who undertake the Social Security disability process themselves since they know what it takes to qualify for disability benefits under SSA guidelines and how to best present the evidence of your disability. A disability lawyer will even work directly with your doctor regarding the verbiage to use in order to best present your medical condition to the SSA. Additionally, should you need to go through the appeals process your disability lawyer will already be familiar with the details of your case.
Expect to wait as much as three months for an initial decision regarding your Social Security Disability case. If you have certain conditions which automatically qualify you as disabled, called compassionate allowances, you may be approved more quickly. While you are waiting for the initial decision regarding your disability, make sure that you attend any consultations which are requested, as failure to do so can lead to your disability claim being denied. If you are unable to attend a scheduled consultation for one reason or another, reschedule it as soon as you possibly can.
If you receive a denial of Social Security Disability benefits, consider consulting a Social Security lawyer. The appeals process can be rather drawn out, and you improve your chance of having your claim accepted at every level if you have professional representation. Best of all, a Social Security lawyer won’t cost you anything unless you are approved for SSI. Even then, your lawyer’s fees will come out of the back pay which is owed to you rather than out of the ongoing benefits which you will receive.
How We Can Help
A Michigan disability lawyer at Baldwin Legal Services PLLC has the legal experience and resources to successfully protect your rights and help you obtain equitable SSI benefits. Our expert legislative teams have years of familiarity with social security disability claims, so we understand precisely what steps and information are necessary for a successful claim. If your case makes it to a hearing, you may need to appear in front of a judge and we’ll be right there by your side. Our disability lawyers have experience handling the particulars of many wide-ranging conditions, from mental disorders like bipolar and depression, to pain-inducing illnesses like fibromyalgia and arthritis. We understand that this is a challenging time, which is why we are committed to making sure proper medical evidence is provided for your application and that any appeals are filed within a timely manner. For a free consultation and to find out more about how we can help, call 877-886-1441. SSI cases are taken on a contingency fee basis. That means, no out-of-pocket expenses for you. The Social Security Administration pays our fee directly if we win your case.