Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides income to elderly and disabled recipients to help them meet their basic financial needs. It is separate from Social Security income benefits provided to retired people. To qualify for SSI, a person must be at least 65 years old, blind or disabled and a U.S. citizen.
Individuals must have less than $2,000 in assets or for couples, $3,000 or less in assets to qualify. Currently, SSI pays a maximum of $794 per month for individuals and $1,191 for couples.
If a person applies for SSI and is denied, he or she has a right to appeal the decision, called an initial determination. There are four steps in the appeals process, which are reconsideration, hearing, appeals council review and federal court review.
If the claimant disagrees with the initial determination, he or she can file a request for a reconsideration within 60 days of receiving notice of the decision. If it is denied, the next option is to request a hearing in front of a judge.
If the claimant does not want to appear at the hearing, he or she can ask the judge to make a decision based on the evidence in the file. Otherwise, he or she will need to appear in person or by video.
If the judge makes a decision that the claimant disagrees with, he or she can request an appeals council review. If that decision is unfavorable, the claimant can file an action with the U.S District Court in his or her area.
An experienced attorney can offer additional information about SSI and provide representation.