Baltimore Social Security Disability Lawyers
Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that provides monthly cash payments to older adults and people with disabilities who are unable to earn a living wage. Unlike Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), eligibility for SSI is based on financial need and is not tied to employment history. Federal SSI payments are generally lower than SSDI payments and are subject to annual cost of living adjustments. The monthly maximum federal amount for 2016 is $733 for an eligible individual and $1,100 for an eligible married couple.
How to Qualify for Supplemental Security Income Benefits
Supplemental Security Income is available to those who have limited income and resources and are either: aged 65 or older, legally blind or disabled. To meet the SSA’s definition of disability, you must have a severe physical or mental impairment that prevents you from earning a living wage and the condition must have lasted or be expected to last 12 months or more. For most SSI applicants, meeting this requirement often proves to be the most difficult obstacle to overcome. While you are not required to have an attorney represent you, it is highly recommended. An experienced Maryland Social Security disability lawyer can be a valuable source of knowledge and can help you obtain the necessary medical evidence to support your claim and present it in manner that is most favorable to your case.
Income and Resource Requirements
SSI benefits are designed to help people with very limited income and assets pay for the necessities of life such as food, clothing and shelter. The program has strict limits on the amount of income you can earn and still qualify for benefits. Income limits are based on the current federal benefit rate (FBR). The FBR for 2016 is $733 per month for an individual and $1,100 for couples. This figure represents both the maximum federal monthly SSI payment and the maximum amount of money you can earn per month to qualify. However, the SSA will only count some, but not all of your monthly income. For example, if you are able to work at a limited capacity, less than half of your wages will be counted towards the income limit. It is also important to note that income coming from other members of your household may also count against you, even if you are the only one who is applying for SSI benefits.
In addition to income, the SSA will also consider your resources when deciding if you qualify for SSI. The total of your assets, including real estate, bank accounts, cash and investments, may not exceed $2,000 if you are single or $3,000 if you are married. Again, not everything you own will be counted against you. For example, the SSA will not include the value of your home and land where you live, your car, household goods or life insurance policies that have a face value of $1,500 or less.
What to do if Your SSI Claim is Denied
If you have received a notice of denial from the SSA, you have a limited time to file an appeal. Your request must reach your local Social Security office no later than 65 days from the date on your decisional notice. Unfortunately, the chances that you will need to go through one or more stages of appeals are extremely high. In Maryland, less than 30% of disability claims are approved at the initial application stage; and even fewer (roughly 15%) are approved at the reconsideration level. While some people choose to give up at this point, those who continue on to the second level of appeals, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing, dramatically improve their rate of success.
Proper and thorough preparation of your case is key to increasing your chances of being approved at the ALJ hearing. However, if you are like most people, you may be unfamiliar with the rules and guidelines that govern Social Security disability, nor understand how to present your case in a manner that will convince the judge that you do in fact meet the standards for receiving benefits. For this reason, it is highly advisable to seek the assistance of a qualified and reputable Maryland Social Security disability lawyer as soon as possible.
Baltimore Social Security Disability Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Are Committed to Helping You Obtain the SSI Benefits You Need
If you would like more information about available programs or eligibility requirements or if you have received a notice of denial from the SSA, contact Maryland Social Security disability lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton today. We work on a contingency basis, meaning you pay nothing until we win your case. Call 800-547-4LAW (4529) today to schedule a free consultation or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie and Towson, allowing us to represent people with disabilities throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood and Elkridge.