What Is SSI?

When many people think of Social Security, they think of disability benefits, the most common one being SSDI  or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. However, SSDI is just one of the disability programs run by the Social Security Administration. Another common disability program is Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, which is also administered through Social Security. SSI provides benefits that offer a financial lifeline for children and adults with severe disabilities, as well as older adults with limited incomes. Unfortunately, applying for Social Security benefits can be a bureaucratic nightmare, and many people do not receive the benefits they are entitled to. Instead of navigating this complex process alone, turn to an experienced SSI lawyer for help.

At Disability Law Group, our team knows how programs like SSI can help people struggling financially. We are committed to helping you get the benefits you deserve. We understand what your case means to you, and we will take it as seriously as you do. Disability cases are all we do at our firm, and our dedication shows in the quality of our representation and the results we deliver for our clients.

Ready to put us to work on your case? Then, contact Disability Law Group today for a free consultation.

What Is Supplemental Security Income?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal financial assistance program run by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It provides money to children and adults who are blind or have severe disabilities and meet specific income requirements. SSI benefits are also available to some older adults who meet certain financial criteria.

How Is SSI Different from Social Security Benefits?

When people use the term “Social Security benefits,” they are often referring to either the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program or Social Security retirement benefits. There are a few crucial ways in which SSI differs from SSDI and other Social Security programs. These differences include the following:

  • SSI is not based on your work history – To qualify for SSDI or Social Security retirement benefits, you must work until you pay enough Social Security taxes and are “insured.” You can find more detailed information on qualifying for SSDI here, but in short, you have to work until you earn enough credits to qualify for disability benefits. SSI benefits are not based on your work history, which is good news for people who have been unable to work or are out of work for a long time.
  • You can collect SSI and Medicaid benefits at the same time – High medical bills are one of the most common reasons people end up in financial trouble, so programs that help people pay for medical care can make a big impact. However, you generally cannot collect SSDI or Social Security retirement benefits and Medicaid simultaneously. People in severe financial distress can often receive SSI benefits and Medicaid at once, making it easier for them to meet their financial needs.
  • Different funding sources – The money for SSDI benefits comes from special taxes workers pay through the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) or the Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA). Funding for SSI comes from the U.S. Treasury’s general fund.

How Is SSI Similar to Social Security Benefits?

SSI and other Social Security programs pay benefits monthly. Furthermore, you must meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability to qualify for SSI or SSDI benefits. The SSA keeps two “Blue Book” lists of medical conditions that qualify someone for disability benefits, one for adults and one for children. You may still qualify for either program even if you don’t have one of the listed ailments, though an examiner will need to determine that your impairment is comparable to one in the Blue Book.

How Do I Apply for SSI?

According to the SSA, you must meet their definition of disability and certain income restrictions to qualify for benefits. As of 2023, you must earn less than $1,913 in wages per month for individuals or $2,827 per month for couples. You must receive less than $934 per month from pensions for individuals or $1,391 per month for couples. Additionally, you must have less than $2,000 in assets for individuals or $3,000 for couples.

If you qualify for SSI benefits, you can submit your application online or make an appointment to speak with an SSA representative. We strongly recommend you work with an attorney on your application to speed up the process and avoid any mistakes.

You may need the following documents to complete your application:

  • Your birth certificate
  • Any medical records related to your disability
  • Your tax forms
  • Pay stubs or other proof of income
  • Your bank account number and routing numbers
  • Your job history

Contact a disability lawyer if you have any questions about applying for SSI benefits.

What Happens if I Am Denied SSI?

If the SSA denies your application for SSI benefits, you can file a request for reconsideration. However, you likely will need additional evidence to support your claim if the SSA rejected your application the first time. An experienced disability attorney can help you with a denied SSI benefits claim.

Can I Appeal an SSI Denial?

Yes. You can request a reconsideration if your application for benefits was denied. If the reconsideration is also denied, you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge. If the judge denies your claim, you can appeal that to an Appeals Council Review, and if that still doesn’t work, you can take your case to federal court. You should speak with a lawyer before attempting to take any of these actions yourself.

How Long Can I Receive SSI Benefits?

SSI benefits are meant to help people with long-term disabilities, meaning their condition will prevent them or has already prevented them from working for at least a year. If the SSA approves your application, you should continue to receive benefits for as long as your disability lasts, provided you don’t exceed the program’s income restrictions and your condition does not improve.

Can I Receive SSI and Continue to Work?

If you meet the qualifications for SSI benefits, you may be able to work through the SSA’s work incentive programsTo retain your SSI benefits, your income cannot go above the program’s restrictions. Contact a disability lawyer for more information on how your job may impact your SSI benefits.

Contact our Michigan Disability Lawyers Today

Our SSI attorneys know how complicated these cases are and what they mean to people in need. We have the experience and knowledge to help you claim SSI benefits and other Social Security benefits for which you qualify. Call our office today or visit our contact page for a free consultation.