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A Look at Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Eligibility

Many people are somewhat familiar with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. While you may not know exactly how the program works, you probably know that if you are disabled and cannot work, you can apply for benefits.

writing-a-check-2-701013-m.jpgThe SSDI program operates somewhat like a private disability benefits insurance policy. Instead of paying a premium, as you do with private insurance, you pay taxes during the years in which you work. Some of that money goes to fund the SSDI program.

In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, you must be disabled, and you must also have worked long enough to have “paid into” the SSDI insurance program, as it is called by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It is not technically measured in years, but rather in quarterly credits earned by the claimant. The actual number of quarterly credits a claimant must have earned will depend on the age of the claimant at time of disability.

However, SSA runs another disability program known as Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI, unlike SSDI, does not require a claimant to have worked and earned any quarterly credits to apply for benefits. SSI is designed to provide benefits to disabled children and blind or disabled elderly Americans as long as they live in a low income household. They are very strict about their income guidelines. You can speak with a Boston disability attorney about your particular financial situation before applying for benefits.

While the income guidelines must be closely followed when filing an application, there are certain sources of income that are exempt from eligibility calculations. According to a recent news article from the Jewish Week, SSA has now clarified its guidelines so heirs of Holocaust survivors will not be excluded from SSI benefits because they inherited Nazi survivors’ reparations.

While this may seem like a quick response on behalf of SSA, it is important to understand it has taken them 20 years to arrive at this point, according to an attorney interviewed in the article.

One person interviewed in the article inherited $35,000 from his mother. She had received that money as reparations paid to her as a survivor of the Holocaust. When SSA learned of this, they discontinued payment of $264 per week in SSI benefits. Claimant sued to reverse this cancellation of his disability benefits, but, while the appeal was still pending, SSA personal informed claimant he was correct that Nazi victim reparations should not be included as income when determining eligibility, and his benefits were restored.

While this is a somewhat less common exemption, which may not apply to most claimants, there are others you can discuss with your attorney during your consultation. It should be noted that if you have a disability attorney representing you during the application process and any necessary appeals, your chances of obtaining a full and appropriate SSI benefits award will be maximized, as the system is set up in a way to make it very difficult for unrepresented claimants to obtain benefits.

If you are considering filing for SSI in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

More Blog Entries:

Disabled Workers Struggle to Find Jobs and are Paid Less, Nov. 5, 2013, Boston Social Security Disability Lawyer Blog