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Supplemental Security Income

Understanding California Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits

There are several different programs that provide disability benefits to people in the state of California, including state-specific programs, private insurance programs, workers’ compensation insurance and social security disability insurance (SSDI). However, for many of these programs, you are required to have worked for a minimum term or your injury or disability must have developed at work. Supplemental Security Income (SSI), on the other hand, provides disability income to people who are in need, regardless of whether these individuals have worked in the past or not.

SSI is a needs-based program, which means that you become eligible to receive SSI benefits based on financial need. The first step to determining eligibility, therefore, is to assess whether your income and resources are above the limits. The California Department of Social Services provides information on the most up-to-date monthly income limits and resource limits, which are subject to change annually. According to the Department of Social Services, your monthly income cannot exceed the maximum SSI benefit amount, while the total resources you own cannot exceed $2,000 for individuals or $3,000 for couples.

Provided you meet the income and resource limits, you will still need to prove you are eligible on the basis of your disability. The SSA has a very narrow definition of what disabilities will qualify you for benefits. For example, the condition must be fatal or must last for at least a year (if it has not lasted that long, you must have medical proof that it will). You must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity as a result of your condition (which means you can’t earn more than $1,010 per month or $1,690 if you are legally blind). Your condition also has to be listed on an SSA list of impairments called the “Blue Book,” and you need to exhibit the symptoms of your specific condition that the blue book specifies are required. If your condition isn’t listed or if you do not experience the symptoms outlined in the blue book, then you’ll have to prove your medical problem is equivalent in severity to listed conditions. A social security lawyer should always be contacted in such cases to help you to prove medical equivalence.

Unfortunately, even if you meet all of the requirements, you still may not have your initial benefits claim approved due to high denial rates. If this occurs, there are several different levels of appeal you can pursue in order to try to receive benefits, including making a request for reconsideration; presenting your case at a disability benefits hearing; making an argument to the appeal’s board as to why previous denials were wrong; and finally appealing to the federal court. If your claim is denied and you need to appeal, you absolutely must get help from a social security disability lawyer since the appeals process has many procedural requirements and deadlines that you will need to comply with.

The Orange County California disability benefits attorneys at Howard Law, P.C. have represented clients throughout the Southern California area in making SSI claims and in successfully appealing SSI denials. If you need assistance with your claim for benefits or if the social security administration has denied your claim, contact us today at 800-872-5925 to learn how we can help.