The process required to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from the Social Security Administration (SSA) is not complicated, as long as you have someone on your side who understands the strict criteria for qualifying and can help you prepare your claim. At Berger and Green, our knowledgeable disability attorneys are ready to walk you through the process and fight for the monthly benefits you deserve.
Gather Your Personal Information.
By gathering all of your information into an organized file before you begin the application process, it makes it much easier to ensure you have everything when filing your claim. In our experience, having these documents at-hand will help the process go more smoothly.
- Your personal information, including birthdate, birthplace, and Social Security number
- The personal information of your spouse and any previous spouses, including birthdates, birthplaces, and Social Security numbers
- The dates and locations of your marriage or marriages and dates of divorce or death of any previous spouses
- The personal information of any minor children in your care
- Information about your income for the last year and the current year
- Documentation of any assets you own and their value
- Your routing number and bank account number, for electronic deposit of benefits
- Any details you can provide about your impairment, including contact information of family and friends who can verify your disability
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers of your doctors and specialists and the facilities where you receive treatment
- Medication and other treatments you currently take and the names of the prescribing doctors
- Outcomes of any attempted treatment
- Any information you can provide about the types of tests you have undergone, when they occurred, who requested them, and their findings
Our lawyers know what the SSA is looking for in each SSI application. We can review your claim file for any missing information before we help you apply for benefits.
Review the SSA’s Technical Qualifications.
Once we have all the information available to document your current financial situation, we can help you determine if you meet the strict financial limits necessary for SSI. This is the first thing the disability examiner assigned to your application will examine. If you do not meet these qualifications, you will receive a technical denial.
SSI is an income-based disability program, so you must meet their income limits in order to qualify. For 2017, this means a monthly income below:
- $735 for an individual; or
- $1,103 for a couple.
While some disability programs only include income you earned from a job, SSI looks at all types of income. This includes other government benefits, investment income, and income earned from working.
SSI also has a strict asset limit, although they exclude many common assets in this count. You must have less than $2,000 in assets to qualify—or $3,000 for a couple—but your home, daily driving vehicle, tools and resources used for self-employment, and tools of accommodation necessary because of your impairment do not count against your limit. When we look at your financial situation, we can explain whether you qualify for a deduction or exclusion.
Evaluate Your Medical Criteria.
Often, our clients stress about whether they meet the medical qualifications to receive SSI more than any other part of the application process—and for good reason. Most benefits denials occur because the disability determination agent decides they do not meet the SSA’s definition of disabled.
The SSA only awards benefits to those who have a total disability, meaning they cannot work and earn a living. There are two ways you can prove your impairments are disabling:
- Meeting the qualifications in an impairment listing; or
- Through a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment.
The SSA publishes a book of impairment listings that outline the criteria you need to meet based on your medical condition. If your medical records clearly show you meet these criteria and the technical qualifications, you should receive approval.
If you do not meet the criteria in the impairment listings, you will need to rely on your RFC to get the benefits you need. This statement of your abilities tells the SSA the tasks you are capable of, how long you can work, and how frequently. If your medical records show you cannot work your most recent job, any previous job, or perform any other work, you will likely qualify for disability benefits.
While we cannot guarantee you will meet the medical qualifications for SSI, we can often get a good idea based on the information you provide us about your condition, treatments, and testing. We can also provide tips and resources to improve your chances of approval.
File Your Application.
Once we have all the information necessary, we can help you file the application for benefits. We will set up an appointment with a local Social Security office in or around Pittsburgh and ensure you have everything necessary to complete the process. We will offer guidance every step of the way, ensuring the SSA gets the information they need to approve you for benefits.
How Can I Talk to a Pittsburgh SSI Lawyer About My Application?
At Berger and Green, our Pittsburgh SSI attorneys can help you determine if you qualify and apply for benefits. We can also help you navigate the appeals process if the SSA denied your claim. Call our office today at 412-661-1400 to schedule your free consultation.