San Joaquin SSI Benefits Lawyer
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San Joaquin SSI Benefits Attorney
If you are unable to work or perform daily tasks in San Joaquin due to a chronic condition or disability, you could receive benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you qualify, you can get financial support while you are unable to work. Applying for these benefits while you are likely in pain, attending healthcare appointments, and trying to manage daily tasks can be difficult.
The qualifications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are stricter than for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), but in some circumstances, you can receive financial support from both SSA programs. Hiring an SSI attorney in San Joaquin can help you in the application process and give you a better chance at success.
Gade & Parekh, LLP: Your Attorneys for SSI Application
At Gade & Parekh, LLP, we understand the Social Security system and have nearly 40 years of experience representing clients and guiding them through this system. We believe you deserve benefits when you are unable to work from a disability, and we want to ensure you receive the support you need and deserve.
We want to represent you throughout the entire process of applying for SSI or SSDI. While many SSI attorneys will represent you during the appeals process after your first application has been denied, we believe in supporting you from your initial claim. That way, you have the highest chance of success from the very first application. We help you to gather evidence and pertinent information for your application to prove your need and disability.
Our team understands the system that your application enters, and we know the people handling your claim. This enables us to make your claim as effective and successful as possible. It can be hard to navigate the system by yourself, and we want to advocate for your rights.
Understanding the Difference Between SSI and SSDI
Both SSDI and SSI are financial aid programs run by the SSA, but their requirements and benefits are not the same.
SSI is a needs-based system, meaning that it gives support to those who have low income and few resources. If you are unable to work because of a disability and meet the income and resource requirements, you may be able to receive SSI benefits. SSI payments are also given to those who received SSDI and have now reached retirement age. SSI benefits are funded by general taxes.
SSDI benefits are funded through Social Security and FICA taxes. If you have paid those taxes from your paycheck, you are paying toward disability insurance in case you are unable to work. Unlike SSI benefits, there are no limits on your income or resources. However, you must have paid taxes to the SSA and meet a certain number of work credits to be eligible for SSDI. Those who receive SSDI have worked previously and receive benefits based on their income, age, and the age they were disabled at.
If you are currently receiving SSDI benefits, you may also be able to receive SSI benefits. An attorney can review your specific situation to determine what benefits you are eligible for. If you are unable to receive SSDI benefits because you don’t meet the work requirements, you may be eligible for SSI benefits.
Understanding Supplemental Security Income Requirements
Many people receiving SSI benefits are disabled adults who were never able to enter the workforce on account of their injury, condition, or disability. SSI payments cover basic living needs for those who have limited resources and income and are disabled, blind, or over 65.
Your income must be limited, and sources of income that are calculated include:
- Paychecks from work
- Other Social Security benefits
- Unemployment benefits
- Veterans’ benefits
- Resources and gifts from family or friends
A professional can review your sources of income to determine whether you meet the income limitations. If not, it’s unlikely you can earn SSI benefits, though there are exceptions.
Resources are also calculated, and this includes:
- Saving and checking accounts
- Personal property
- Real estate and land
- Stock and bonds
- Life insurance
The total of these resources, when valued, also can’t exceed a certain amount. The income and resource limits are set by the SSA every year.
You also have to meet the requirements for what is considered a disability to the SSA. The restrictions for SSI are stricter than SSDI. When you receive SSI benefits, you can’t work in the same field that your disability prevents you from working in. When you receive SSDI, you can return to work or limited work but retain your benefits. However, on SSI, you must show that you can’t work in the field you are trained for, and this means you can’t work there while on benefits.
To qualify for either type of SSA financial aid, your disability needs to:
- Have impacted you for the 12 months prior to filing or is expected to affect you for 12 months into the future or until death
- Prevent you from completing “substantial gainful activity”
- Prevent you from continuing your work
To receive SSI, you must be considered fully disabled, not partially disabled. The SSA has a list of disabilities it considers qualifying conditions. If your disability is not on that list, you should still try to get benefits. Your condition may still qualify. Even if your disability has not affected you for an entire year, you should still talk with an SSI attorney. Don’t want a year to file — an attorney can help you gather important evidence right away.
The Process of SSI Application
Applying for SSI benefits can be complex. The process includes:
- The first application. Submitting an application for approval requires information regarding your disability, your work history, medical treatment you’ve received, and your income and resources. You can submit this application to the SSA online, over the phone, or at an SSA office.
- Medical evaluation. The SSA reviews your medical information after receiving your application. They may request that you take a medical evaluation for a healthcare professional to determine the extent of your condition, illness, or disability. They will also evaluate its impact on your ability to work.
- Disability eligibility determination. The SSA will then decide, based on your condition and your financial resources, if you are eligible for SSI benefits.
- The appeals process. If the first application is denied, you can appeal this decision. The first appeal is a request for reconsideration, followed by a hearing with an administrative judge. Additional appeals can be made with the Appeals Council and with the federal courts.
This process is lengthy, and it’s unfortunately common for an initial application to be denied. Even a fully completed and valid application may be denied. The process, especially when appeals need to be made, can take years. An SSI attorney can give your initial application its greatest chance at approval, represent you and gather supplemental information to appeal any denial.
Do I Need an SSI Benefits Attorney?
There are several advantages to working with a lawyer on your application and through appeals. An attorney improves your chances of success and can expedite the process, meaning you and your family receive benefits sooner. An attorney can help you with several aspects of an SSI claim:
- Case evaluation. Your attorney can review your unique circumstances and determine what you are eligible for. They can help you understand what you may receive from SSA programs and what evidence needs to be gathered.
- An attorney can guide you through the application and ensure all the important evidence and information is included.
- If the application is denied, an attorney can file an appeal for reconsideration. They can also advocate for your rights and interests in an administrative hearing.
- If your application needs to go to a hearing, an attorney can present your situation and argue your case to the administrative judge. Your attorney can also question and cross-examine witnesses.
Navigating this process by yourself while dealing with other life stressors can be hard. An attorney can handle some of this work and help you fight for the support you deserve.
Back Pay for SSI Benefits
When you are approved for benefits, you could receive back pay, also called retroactive payment. This payment will cover the period of time from when you first applied to the date you were approved. It provides you support for the period of time you should have had benefits but did not receive any. How much back pay you earn depends on:
- The date you applied
- The date your benefits were approved
- When you were disabled
Often, back pay is organized in a lump sum.
What Is the Most a Social Security Lawyer Can Charge?
There are regulations imposed by the SSA that place restrictions on how much an SSI benefits attorney can charge. SSI attorneys can’t charge more than 25% of the retroactive benefit, or back pay, that is awarded to a person once approved. This amount can’t exceed $6,000. Attorneys have to provide detailed lists of what charges were made, and the SSA must approve any fees.
Support for Your SSI Benefits Application
The attorneys at Gade & Parekh, LLP want to help you earn your deserved SSI benefits. If you are unable to support yourself because of a condition or disability, we can help you through even part of the process. Contact our firm today to see how we can represent you.