When thinking of Social Security disability benefits, many people are only familiar with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. This program is administered by the United States Social Security Administration (SSA) and was established to provide benefits to disabled Americans who are unable to work. The program requires a claimant to have worked for a certain number of years prior to applying for benefits. The exact number of years, more specifically calculated as quarterly credits, depends on a claimant’s age at the time of becoming disabled.
Our Boston disability attorneys know there is another disability benefits program Congress has established that is also run by SSA. This program is called Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and provides benefits to elderly or disabled Americans and disabled children regardless of prior work history. In other words, there is no requirement that claimants have worked enough to pay into what is essentially a government insurance plan. However, unlike SSDI, SSI benefits are limited to adults and children in low-income households.
In a recent article from the Daily Star Journal, an SSA employee discusses how the program can help children in need. In addition to providing Social Security cards, which are needed for children to receive aid from many public agencies, SSA also administers the SSI benefits program.
However, in order for a child to qualify for SSI benefits, certain conditions must be met. First the child must have a physical or mental condition, or combination of conditions, which cause “marked and severe functional limitations.” The child must also have a severe condition that lasts more than one year, or expected to result in death. If the child does not meet these conditions, SSA will deny any benefits application.
It should be noted, that even if your child does meet these requirements, his or her SSI application will still likely be denied. This is because the SSA annually rejects more than half all of applications for very little reason. It is essentially SSA policy to cut down on the amount of benefits paid each year by denying applications.
One of the most important things you can do if you have a disabled child and are planning on applying for SSI benefits is to speak with an attorney who regularly handles these types of cases as early in the process as possible. Not only is the system set up to reject many valid claims, it is also set up in way that places unrepresented applicants at a serious disadvantage. This is because SSA hires vocational experts and doctors to evaluate your child and testify in a way they know will increase the chance an administrative law judge (ALJ) will deny the child benefits.
If the family has an attorney who is also familiar with how the system works, he or she can cross-examine SSA’s alleged experts, and also present other witnesses to testify in favor of an award of benefits. Without an attorney, the system makes it very difficult to succeed.
If you need help getting Social Security benefits in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.
More Blog Entries:
Williams v. Colvin: Determining the Date of Disability for the Purpose of SSDI, August 10, 2014, Boston Disability Lawyers Blog