How Long Does It Take To Get Supplemental Security Income?
When a disabling medical condition prevents you from working, the struggle to afford food, shelter, and other basic needs becomes overwhelming. The Supplemental Security Income program offers financial relief in the form of monthly cash payments and, in many states, coverage for medical expenses through Medicaid.
It is probably the financial pressure that makes one of the first things people ask their SSI lawyer at MJ Ellis Disability Law is about the length of time before they receive SSI benefits. Although the Social Security Administration website claims that it takes from three to five months to get a decision, it quickly adds a disclaimer about factors that could make it take longer. A better way to answer the question is by taking a look at the program and the application process.
What is the Supplemental Security Income program?
SSI provides monthly payments to adults or children who are blind or disabled and have limited income and financial resources available to help them pay for food, clothing, and shelter. The program also provides benefits to individuals who are 65 years of age and older who are not blind or disabled as long as they meet the financial limitations to qualify for benefits.
Income And Resource Rules For SSI
The value of all resources, such as real estate, stocks, bank accounts, and cash on hand, cannot exceed $2,000. The resource limit is only slightly higher at $3,000 for couples applying for benefits through the SSI program.
You should review what you own with an SSD lawyer because some assets you own may not count toward the resource limits. For example, you can own a home and the land on which it is situated regardless of its value as long as you occupy it as your principal residence. A car that you use for personal transportation is another resource that does not count toward the total value of resources allowable to qualify for SSI.
Rules regarding resources can be complicated. For example, the value of your home used as your principal residence may be counted as a resource should you sell it, but if you use the money you receive from its sale to purchase another home that you occupy as a principal residence, the money from the sale that is invested in the new home does not count as a resource.
Your income, much like other resources, must be limited to qualify for SSI. As with resources, all income does not count. The following do not count as income:
- The first $20 income received during a month.
- The first $65 in earnings from work and half of your monthly earnings over $65.
- SNAP benefits.
- Shelter provided by nonprofit organizations.
You should note that the value of food or shelter furnished to you by a friend, relative, or other sources other than a nonprofit organization or through SNAP counts as income.
How Long Does It Take To Get SSI?
Satisfying the financial criteria is only part of the process to qualify for SSI benefits. You also must be blind or disabled and unable to work. The same standards for blindness apply in both adults and children applying for SSI, but there are different definitions of disability depending upon whether the applicant is an adult or a child
According to the definition used by Social Security, an adult is disabled when prevented from engaging in substantial gainful activity by a medically determinable physical or mental impairment. The impairment or combination of impairments must be expected to last for at least 12 months or cause death.
A different definition of disabled is used for a child applying for SSI. A disabled child must have marked and severe functional limitations expected to last for more than 12 months or cause death caused by a medically determinable mental or physical impairment or impairments.
Social Security uses an evaluation process that starts with gathering medical records of the applicant from medical providers and reviewing their contents to determine if the medical and other evidence supports a finding that the individual is blind or disabled. Any delay in obtaining the records will necessarily cause delays in the review process.
SSD lawyer who knows the process can avoid delays by submitting evidence supporting the claim for benefits along with the application. If the records are not available, the lawyer may contact the doctors treating the applicant to expedite the release of the records to Social Security.
Avoid Delays By Working With An SSI Lawyer
An SSD lawyer from MJ Ellis Disability Law uses experience and knowledge of the SSI eligibility guidelines and procedures to avoid errors or incomplete applications that contribute to delays in the approval process. Instead of relying on Social Security to obtain medical records and other evidence required to support your claim, each SSI and SSDI lawyer submits the evidence with the application to expedite the process. Learn more about how we can help by scheduling a free consultation and case review.