How Are SSI Claims Decided?

by Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys

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Our Oklahoma Disability Lawyers Explain the Different Factors That Can Affect Your SSI Claim

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provides financial benefits to those who are unable to work due to a disabling physical or mental condition. Through this program, disabled individuals can obtain benefits to help support their everyday life.  

However, being approved for this type of benefits isn’t easy, as the SSA has many complex rules and regulations. For this reason, our team of Oklahoma disability lawyers at Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys has shared some of the different factors that the SSA reviews when determining whether or not you’re eligible for SSI benefits.  

Requirements to Receive SSI Benefits 

The SSA has various requirements that you must meet in order to be approved for benefits. You may be eligible if: 

  • You’re under 65 but suffer from a qualifying disability that prevents you from working. 
  • You’re blind according to the SSA’s standards. 

The SSA’s Definition of ‘Disability’

If you are under the age of 65, you must have a qualifying disability that prevents you from working to receive SSI benefits. The SSA has a strict definition of disability it uses to determine whether or not an applicant’s condition is disabling. 

 To be considered disabled, your condition must meet the following: 

  • Your condition prevents you from continuing any job/jobs you’ve held in the past. 
  • You’re unable to hold any other type of job, for which you are qualified, due to the nature of your condition. 
  • Your condition is expected to last at least one year or result in death. 

If you don’t meet the SSA’s medical criteria, then your claim for SSI benefits will likely be denied.

The SSA’s Blue Book lists certain impairments that are automatically considered a qualifying disability. If your condition is NOT listed in the book, a claims examiner will evaluate what’s known as your residual functional capacity (RFC). This helps the SSA understand the nature of your condition and how it impacts your daily life.

Does Income Impact Your Eligibility?

The SSA not only has strict medical requirements but also income limitations that SSI applicants must meet. Keep in mind that SSI is a needs-based program designed to help disabled individuals with little income pay for their everyday necessities. 

Therefore, the SSA sets an income limit every year for SSI applicants. The following items count towards the income limit:

  • Income from investments 
  • Spousal income
  • Veteran’s benefits 
  • Rental income 
  • Unemployment 
  • Any money earned from a job, including self-employment

If your combined income from any of these sources mentioned above exceeds the SSA’s set limit, then you may not be eligible for benefits.

Our team can review your claim and help you understand what does and doesn’t count towards the SSA’s income limit.

What’s the Resource Limit? 

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Another factor the SSA reviews when determining SSI claims is the applicant’s total resources. According to the SSA, “countable resources” are money and items that you own that can be turned into cash. 

The following fall under the resource limit: 

  • Bank accounts 
  • Stocks 
  • Bonds  
  • Oil royalties
  • Vehicles other than the one you drive 
  • Property other than the home you live in 

If your resources exceed the SSA’s limit, then you will likely be denied SSI benefits. It’s in your best interest to talk with our Oklahoma disability lawyers to determine which resources are counted towards the limit and how it may impact your claim. 

What If Your Claim Is Denied? 

If your claim for SSI was denied, it doesn’t always mean you’re not entitled to benefits. In some cases, applicants are denied simply because they were missing paperwork or filled out a form incorrectly. Denied applicants may still be able to obtain benefits through the appeals process.

After receiving a denied claim, you have the opportunity to file a request for reconsideration, which essentially asks the SSA to reevaluate your application. If you’re denied benefits at this stage, you may request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). 

During this stage of the appeals process, you may submit further evidence and have witnesses testify to support your claim. If the judge also denies your claim, you may have the option to appeal at further levels.

While a lawyer is not required, having a knowledgeable attorney on your side during your appeal will not only make the complex process simpler but also increase your chances of obtaining any benefits you’re entitled to. 

If your claim has been denied, our disability lawyers may be able to help you gather the necessary paperwork and medical evidence to support your claim.

Have Questions About Your SSI Benefits? We’re Here to Help 

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The Oklahoma disability lawyers at Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys know the laws surrounding disability claims. Our team is passionate about helping disabled individuals receive the financial support they need when their condition prevents them from working and earning a living.  

From determining if you qualify for SSI benefits to gathering the required medical evidence, our team can help you through every stage of the lengthy process. 

We are available to answer any questions you may have about applying or appealing for SSI benefits. Call our law firm at 877-579-6800 or fill out our free consultation form today for help!