SSI Lawyers in Fairhope, Alabama
Supplemental Security Income is a lifeline for many blind, elderly, and disabled people who need assistance with basic living expenses. This need-based program helps with money for shelter, food, clothing, and other needs. However, the Social Security Administration is rigorous with its application process and qualified applicants are often denied. By learning more about the SSI program and getting personalized help with your application, you can submit the best application possible.
Ready to discuss your SSI application with an SSI attorney in Fairhope, AL? It’s time to talk to the team at Byron A. Lassiter & Associates. Call our Mobile office at 251-478-5297 to schedule a consultation now.
What is SSI?
The term “disability benefits” is often used to describe both SSI and SSDI. However, they are vastly different programs. While SSDI is a program you pay into with every paycheck you earn, SSI is tax-funded. You do not have to have limited income or resources to receive SSDI, but you must fall below certain thresholds for SSI.
Since SSI is a need-based program, it is only available to those with limited income and resources. Having more than the program permits will cause your benefits to decrease or be eliminated completely. On top of that, you must meet stringent disability requirements. Failure to meet both of these guidelines will result in your application being denied.
Benefits vary, depending on whether or not you have assets and income that fall above program thresholds. In 2022, the maximum an individual can receive each month is $841 and the most a couple can receive monthly is $1,261. Note, though, that some states supplement SSI benefits. Both Alabama and Florida manage their own supplemental payments.
Qualifying for SSI
There are two parts to qualifying for SSI. The first is your income and resources. The SSA separates income into four categories, including earned income like wages, unearned income like state disability payments, in-kind income like free food or shelter, and deemed income earned by a spouse or parent you live with.
There are some types of income that do not count against you, including the first $20 of income you earn each month, the first $65 of your earnings each month, and half of your earnings above that, SNAP, home energy assistance, and infrequent small amounts of income. Your countable income is subtracted from what you would receive in benefits, resulting in your final monthly payment.
You must also have limited resources. Resources include cash on hand, bank accounts, retirement funds, land, cars, and resources owned by a parent or spouse you live with. Some resources that do not count against you include the home you live in, your personal effects, small life insurance policies, and one vehicle used for transportation. An individual can have up to $2,000 in resources and a couple can have up to $3,000. Anything beyond that can decrease your benefits.
The other part of qualifying for SSI benefits is your disability. You may qualify if you are elderly, blind, or significantly disabled. To be counted as “disabled” for the sake of this program, your impairment must leave you unable to engage in substantial gainful activity and be serious enough to last at least 12 months or result in your death. The SSA Blue Book has specific information regarding requirements for each diagnosis.
How Living Situations Affect Your Benefits
If you do not live alone, your living situation could have a negative impact on your benefits. If you live with a spouse or parent, their income and resources could decrease what you earn in benefits, even if you do not receive direct assistance from them.
“Deemed” income and resources are those that are presumed to be available to you for the cost of your care. If your spouse does not qualify for SSI benefits, their income may decrease your benefits. The same is true if you live with a parent and are below the age of 18. In the same way, your spouse’s or your parent’s resources could lead to the loss of your benefits.
Your benefits may also be impacted if you live in a nursing home or assisted living facility paid for by Medicaid, such as Montrose Bay Health and Rehabilitation, Fairhope Health and Rehabilitation, or The Brennity at Fairhope Senior Living.
Why You Need a Fairhope, AL Disability Attorney
The process of applying for SSI benefits can be time-consuming and stressful, especially if you have already faced denial once. Most applicants are denied at least once before receiving benefits.
A denial doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot receive SSI payments—it may just mean that your application was not strong enough or left out important information. The SSA relies heavily on medical evidence of your disability to determine whether or not your application will be approved. If you provide weak or out-of-date medical documentation, for example, your application could be rejected right away.
That’s why it’s important to work with the team at Baker & Baker. Due to our exclusive focus on helping clients recover disability benefits in Florida and Alabama, we know what the SSA looks at when processing applications and what types of evidence could help you get the benefits you deserve. As we review your application and documentation, we will be able to identify weak spots and figure out where you may need more evidence. By tackling these problems early on, before you submit your application, we may be able to skip the delay and stress of a denial.
If you’ve already been denied, we’re still here to help you. Through our years of experience in this area of law, we have seen many denied SSI and SSDI applications. Many of those applicants later went on to receive benefits after a review and revision of what they had submitted. A thorough review of your application and a concerted effort to strengthen your medical evidence can often make the difference in whether or not you win your appeal.
Call Byron A. Lassiter & Associates Now to Get Started
The SSI program provides crucial financial support to those who need it. If you think you qualify, it’s time to talk to our team, let us review your application, and get personalized guidance. Set up an appointment now by calling our Mobile office at 251-478-5297 or contacting us online.