Will I Qualify For SSI and How Do I Get Approved?

Individuals who are filing for disability through the SSI program have to meet income and resource limits as well as be found medically disabled in order to qualify for disability benefits. SSI is a need-based disability program and, as such, it is bound by income and resource limits just as any other need-based program.

The resource limits can change yearly but they have remained the same for many years. Currently, the resource limit for a person is $2000.00 and for a couple it is $3000.00. Resource limits exclude an individual's or couple's highest valued vehicle and their home. Any other land, vehicles, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, etc. count toward the resource limit.

Additionally, SSI disability applicants must meet income limits that vary depending upon family composition. If a disability applicant is over either limit, their SSI disability claim will be denied at the initial disability interview.

If an individual meets the income and resource limits at their initial disability interview, their disability claim will be sent to a state disability-processing agency for a medical decision. The medical decision process is the same for both Social Security Disability and SSI. Once the claim is at the state disability agency, a disability examiner gathers medical records from the sources the disability applicant provided at their interview. If an individual does not have any current medical treatment, or they have no medical treatment notes, they will have to attend consultative medical or mental examinations with a physician who is paid by Social Security.

Once the information is received from the individual's medical sources or their consultative examination reports, the disability examiner will evaluate the medical evidence along with questionnaires completed by both the applicant and their third party contact-person (a friend or family member who knows about their conditions and how it limits the their daily activity) in order to determine what the disability applicant's residual functional capacity (what an individual is able to do in spite of their limitations) is.

Once the disability examiner determines an individual's residual functional capacity, they can further determine if the applicant is able to perform any of their past work or if they would be capable of other work considering their limitations.

So how does an individual get approved for SSI? They have to meet or equal a Social Security impairment listing or they have to go through the disability decision described above. And if an individual is medically approved for SSI there is still one last hurdle to jump. SSI disability applicants who are approved medically for disability must go to an end-of-the-line review with a claims representative prior to receiving SSI disability.

The end of the line review is used to make sure an individual still meets the income and resource limits along with other non-medical requirements and disability criteria needed to be eligible for SSI. Regrettably, some SSI applicants who are found medically disabled are denied because they do not meet the income and resource limits

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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