Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Understanding the Program and How to Access Benefits

By December 14, 2023 No Comments

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a government program that provides financial aid to people who have a disability, are blind, or are 65 or older. It’s specifically designed for people with limited income and resources. The important thing about SSI is that it doesn’t depend on your work history. Instead, it focuses on your current financial needs.

It’s important to check with an experienced Oregon social security attorney like Drew L. Johnson, P.C. Attorneys At Law, to make sure your application is approved the first time. We can also assist you with the appeals process if you’ve already been denied.

How is SSDI Different from SSI?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is another type of federal benefit, but it differs significantly from Supplemental Security Income (SSI). While SSI is based on financial need regardless of work history, SSDI is available to people who have a disability and have paid a sufficient amount into the Social Security system through payroll taxes. Basically, SSDI is like an insurance program for workers who have paid into the system in the past and now need assistance from it.

To qualify for SSDI, you must have earned a certain number of work credits. These are based on your work history and age. The amount of SSDI benefits you can receive depends on your “earnings record.” This means that the more you earn and pay into Social Security, the higher your monthly benefit will be. Additionally, SSDI includes benefits for certain family members, such as minor children or your spouse.

It’s really important to understand the differences between these benefits before you apply. Knowing whether you qualify for SSI, SSDI, or both can significantly impact your financial planning. A firm understanding of these differences also helps you with the application process. You can avoid simple mistakes that lead to denials by discussing these issues with your attorney before you apply.

Can I Qualify for SSI and SSDI at the Same Time in Oregon?

Yes. Receiving both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) at the same time is possible in Oregon. This situation applies to people who have a disability and limited income and resources and who also have a qualifying work history.

Receiving both benefits at the same time can help increase your total monthly financial assistance; however, the amount of SSI benefits will be reduced by the amount of SSDI benefits you receive. This is because SSI is a “need-based” program, and any income you receive can reduce the SSI payment amount.

It’s important to carefully report all of your income and resources when applying for both benefits. Mistakes or lies can lead to an overpayment, which then leads to legal issues. If you’re considering applying for both SSI and SSDI in Oregon, Drew L. Johnson, P.C. Attorneys At Law can help you maximize your monthly assistance.

Applying For SSI Benefits

To apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you should be prepared and informed about the process. First, gather all necessary documents, like your proof of age, citizenship, disability, and income. This will let you know if you’re eligible for SSI. You can then apply for SSI through the Social Security Administration (SSA) online, over the phone, or in person at a local SSA office.

Once you begin the application process, the SSA may request additional information to complete your request. It’s important to respond quickly when they contact you. Sometimes, you may need to attend an interview in person or over the phone.

After you submit your application, you wait for the SSA to review your case. This waiting period can last several months on average, so we recommend you prepare for the long wait by managing your finances as carefully as possible. Once approved, your SSI benefits will be provided monthly through direct deposit, a Direct Express card, or a paper check. The amount you receive depends on your financial situation and the specifics of your case.

Navigating the SSI application process can be complex, especially for those with disabilities or difficult financial situations. It’s important to fully discuss your circumstances with your Social Security attorney before you apply. We can also help you if your application has already been denied.

I Was Denied SSI, SSDI, or Both—What Can I Do Now?

Being denied SSI or SSDI benefits can be frustrating and confusing. Denials can happen for many reasons, but the most common ones are insufficient medical evidence, exceeding income limits, or not meeting the SSA’s disability criteria.

If you’ve been denied, the first step is to understand the reason for the denial. Typically, the SSA sends denial reasons only in letters through the mail. People often make the mistake of submitting a new application with all their new information, only to find out that it was denied, too. This is because you’ve already submitted your application. You must appeal the SSA’s decision, not start over from scratch.

The appeals process involves several stages. At each stage, you could be approved for benefits, so there will be no need to go further once you are. Filing for reconsideration is first, then, if necessary, a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. If you’re still denied, we proceed to the Appeals Council for review and, if warranted, file in federal court. It’s important that you act very quickly after each denial. There are strict 60-day deadlines for filing appeals, which start from the date you first receive the denial.

For assistance with your SSI or SSDI application or appeal, call Drew L. Johnson, P.C. Attorneys At Law, at (541) 434-6466. Our experience in managing cases can help you understand your rights and options moving forward. Let us help you avoid denials so you receive your financial assistance as soon as possible.