SSDI, SSI, Estate Planning, Elder Law & Medi-Cal Planning in California

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The Social Security Administration has established two programs to help disabled individuals, Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). While the average person probably has little idea that there is a distinction, these programs are actually quite different from each other and are designed for different types of claimants. The process of application and approval for both can be difficult, and it may be in your best interests to work with a SSI attorney who can help you.

Social Security Disability (SSD)

Social Security Disability (SSD) is one of two programs where disability benefits are paid by the Social Security Administration. Social Security Disability is an insurance program for workers who have paid FICA taxes and subsequently become disabled and unable to work. Social Security Disability can also provide monthly disability benefits and health coverage for a deceased, disabled or retired worker’s disabled dependents.

A Social Security disability lawyer will tell you that when you apply for Social Security Disability the government first reviews your earnings record to determine if you have enough quarters of coverage. If you are covered for Social Security Disability your medical condition is then evaluated to see if you meet the Social Security disability test.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) the second program is a needs based program for individuals with little or no income and few resources.

SSI is a federal program administered by the Social Security Administration that provides monthly cash payments to people in need. SSA carefully reviews an individual’s income and resources before evaluating their disabling condition. SSI can be paid to blind or disabled people prior to age 65. When SSI is awarded Medicaid/MediCal health benefits may also be provided.

Please call us at 866-772-5299 for more information.

A SSI Attorney on Determining Disability

“Disabled,” as it applies to applicants of these programs, is defined in a special way. The SSA has put together a large book referred to variously as the Blue Book and Listings of Impairments. Unfortunately, as your SSI lawyer will tell you, this book is not comprehensive, and so, if your impairment is not listed, you will need to show how it meets or equals an impairment that is listed. For instance, if you suffer from a chronic headache that is not in the listings, you might refer to the entry for cluster or migraine headaches.

If your impairment does not equal or meet one in the listings, then you will need to show that your residual functional capacity (RFC) has diminished substantially. The SSA uses the Medical/Vocational Grids to this end. If this sounds complicated, it is, but, essentially, your RFC is your remaining ability to engage in meaningful work for SSD or in basic activities for SSI.

A SSI Attorney Distinguishes between SSD and SSI

Supplemental Security Income is a needs-based program, and a person’s eligibility hinges largely upon the claimant either having no income or very little. In addition, a claimant cannot have more than $2,000 worth of assets or $3,000 for a couple. The SSI program is paid for through the federal government’s general fund. It is worth noting that if you are found eligible for SSI you may very well qualify for Medicaid as well.

Social Security Disability, on the other hand, is based on a claimant being too disabled to work any job for at least 12 months. Applicants must have worked a minimum number of quarters during which they paid into the program to qualify. The program, then, is paid for by these contributions, which is why SSD is often referred to as a type of insurance.

The appeals process is the same for both, and a SSI attorney will tell you that many claimants are initially denied. The problem is that the SSA does not review applications on first submission. Instead, an agent with a contracting agency will provide what is often a cursory review of the claim. It is generally only on the second appeal that the SSA finally handles the claim directly when the claimant is called before an administrative law judge for a hearing.

Work with a SSI Lawyer If You Have Questions

If your application for either program has been denied or you have questions, contact a SSI attorney who has the knowledge and background to provide you with quality representation. Call the Social Security Law Center today at 1-866-772-5299.

James Dolenga, JD

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