Dunedin SSI Lawyer Overview

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a benefit provided by the federal government to people with limited means who have either reached retirement age or who suffer from a disability that prevents them from working. While many people in Dunedin receive income from the program, many others find that their applications are denied.

Demonstrating that you meet the qualifications to receive SSI can be a challenging task. Many people find it helpful to work with an experienced Dunedin SSI lawyer who understands how the application and appeal process works. Assistance from a personal injury lawyer with experience handling SSI cases could help you obtain the full amount of benefits to which you are entitled.

Eligibility Requirements for SSI

The SSI program is designed to provide money to meet basic needs such as shelter, food, and clothing. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or fulfill certain immigration requirements, and they must demonstrate financial need as well as age or disability.

Demonstrating Financial Need

In order to qualify for benefits, applicants need to show that they have virtually no other resources to draw on. To determine eligibility, the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks at an applicant’s assets as well as income.

In terms of income, the SSA will consider both earned income as well as amounts received from other benefit programs, such as workers’ compensation. They even look at gifts from friends and relatives, including offers of free shelter or food.

For assets, the SSA looks at the applicant’s money, life insurance, and all types of property. However, the agency does not count the value of the applicant’s home, household goods, personal car, and other specific assets. A Dunedin SSI attorney could review an applicant’s holdings to determine eligibility.

Proving Age or Disability

In addition to demonstrating immigration status and financial need, applicants must show that they are either at least 65-years-old or that they meet the SSA standards for total long-term disability. These standards differ somewhat for children than they do for adults aged 18 or older.

Adults must show that they suffer from a condition which prevents them from performing gainful employment and that this condition is expected to last over a year or result in death. The agency’s process for evaluating disability is very strict, so applicants frequently find it helpful to work with an experienced Dunedin SSI lawyer when preparing their applications and supporting documentation.

Applying for SSI

Individuals may apply for SSI benefits online through the SSA website, or they may make an appointment to apply over the phone or in person at an SSA office near Dunedin. It is a good idea to have supporting documentation prepared to file with the application. Evidence will be used to demonstrate the severity of a medical condition causing disability, as well as financial hardship.

If the SSA denies an application for benefits or discontinues them, an applicant has the right to appeal the decision. In fact, the agency provides four levels of appeal. The appeal process becomes more formal at each stage, so applicants often seek assistance from an experienced SSI attorney in Dunedin.

The appeals process includes:

  • Reconsideration at the SSA
  • Hearing before an administrative law judge
  • Review by the Appeals Council
  • Claim in federal court

An attorney may represent an applicant at each stage in the process.

The Advantages of Working with a Dunedin SSI Attorney

The SSA does not require applicants to be represented by legal counsel, but the agency does specify that applicants have the right to work with an attorney. An experienced Dunedin SSI lawyer could help individuals understand what the agency is looking for and how to present the evidence in the most persuasive manner.

An SSI attorney could also provide advice to help avoid mistakes that could jeopardize a benefit award. To learn how a lawyer could help in your situation, call now for a consultation.

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