SSI

New Orleans Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Lawyers

Helping disabled people in New Orleans and Slidell obtain federal disability benefits

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two different ways to provide for people who are disabled. SSI provides for disabled people in need without reviewing their work history. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program that provides for disabled people who have a history of working and paying part of their income to the Social Security Administration.

At the Law Office of James A. Graham, our lawyers help disabled people in New Orleans and Slidell obtain SSI and SSDI benefits. For people who have limited income and can’t qualify for SSDI, we’ll explain the requirements for filing for SSI. We’ll work with your physicians to verify that you have a disability that prevents you from earning a living. When you’re struggling to pay the bills because of a disability, you can rely on our New Orleans and Slidell SSI attorneys to fight for the income and health benefits you deserve.

How does the SSI program work?

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According to the Social Security Administration, SSI is a federal program. It is funded through general taxes, not Social Security taxes. Eligible participants are entitled to a monthly amount to pay for basic needs – food, clothing, and shelter. Different applicants may receive different amounts depending on whether the state where they live adds additional money to the monthly payment, and whether they have other income, like wages, pensions, or Social Security benefits. If you live with a spouse who has an income, your amount could be reduced.

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Am I eligible for SSI in New Orleans?

To be eligible for Supplementary Security Income, the applicant must:

  • Be disabled, blind, or 65 or older. SSA uses the following definitions of disability and blindness:
    • Disability for an adult. If you are 18 or older, you may be considered disabled if there is medical evidence (we help you obtain the properly written verification from your doctors) of “a physical or mental impairment (including an emotional or learning problem): which:
      • Results in the inability to do any substantial gainful activity; and
        • Can be expected to result in death or
        • Has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
      • Disability for a child. For anyone under 18, there must be medically supportable evidence of a physical or emotional impairment (including an emotional or learning problem) to show:
        • “Marked and severe functional limitations; and
          • Can be expected to result in death; or
          • Has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
        • Blindness:
          • “You have a central visual acuity for distance of 20/200 or less in your better eye with use of a correcting lens.”
          • “You have a visual field limitation in your better eye, such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees.”

The SSA does use technology to determine if an applicant’s disability is clear-cut. In these cases, such as a cancer diagnosis, SSA expedites their decision.

  • Must be a US citizen or national. “Beginning August 22, 1996, most non–citizens must meet two requirements to be eligible for SSI:
    • the non–citizen must be in a qualified alien category, and
    • meet a condition that allows qualified aliens to get SSI benefits.”
  • Reside in Louisiana or one of the other US states, Washington DC, or the Northern Mariana Islands. Some exceptions for the children of military parents and students who are temporarily abroad may apply.

What are the income limits for SSI eligibility in New Orleans?

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According to Investopedia, the income limit for SSI benefits as of 2022 is $1,767 for an individual or $2,607 for a couple. Our New Orleans SSI lawyers will explain which income counts toward the limit, and what income may not count. Income that will be counted, according to SSA, includes wages, self-employment income, royalties, Social Security benefits, workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, money from friends and relatives, and free food or shelter.

SSA does have income exclusions, or items that do not count toward the income limit, stating, “Generally, if the item received cannot be used as, or to obtain, food or shelter, it will not be considered as income.” For example, the following items are excluded:

  • The first $20 per month.
  • Income set aside or being used to pursue a plan for achieving self-support by a disabled or blind individual.
  • State or local assistance based on need that is wholly funded by the state or local area in the state.

What are the asset/resource limits for SSI eligibility in New Orleans?

Your assets should be $2,000 or less if single and $3,000 or less if married. Applicants will need to disclose how much is in their bank account, and what assets could be sold for cash. Some exceptions do apply. If you own your home and the land on it, that amount doesn’t count toward the $2,000/$3,000 limit. One vehicle, your clothing, appliances, furniture, and your wedding ring don’t count toward the resource limit either.

What benefits can I receive through the SSI program?

The SSA states that for 2023, the maximum SSI benefit is $914 for an eligible individual, $1,371 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse, and $458 for an essential person. Cost-of-living increases may increase the amount each year.

What documents do I need to file my SSI claim in New Orleans?

Many initial claims for SSI are denied when claimants file on their own. Often, claimants who should otherwise be eligible fail to provide the correct financial, work, and disability information. At the Law Office of James A. Graham, our New Orleans SSI lawyers help applicants file the information they need to support their claims. We understand the key documents and evidence the SSA is looking for.

Some of the many documents you’ll need include:

  • Proof of age
  • Proof of citizenship or eligible alien status
  • Proof of income
  • Proof of resources
  • Proof of living arrangements
  • Work history
  • Medical verification of a disability or blindness

Our New Orleans SSI lawyers will explain when you need original documents, and when you may use certified copies.

Is anyone else in my family eligible for SSI?

Parents may apply for SSI for a child, provided the child is blind and/or disabled. Per the SSA:

  • “A child may be eligible for SSI disability benefits beginning as early as the date of birth; there is no minimum age requirement.
  • A child may be eligible for SSI disability benefits until attainment of age 18.
  • When the child attains age 18, we evaluate impairments based on the definition of disability for adults.
  • A child with a visual impairment may be eligible for SSI benefits based on blindness if the impairment meets the definition of blindness”

Do you have an SSI lawyer near me?

The Law Office of James A. Graham has two office locations in South Louisiana:

For clients who are unable to travel, we can schedule phone or video conferences when needed.

Get help from a respected New Orleans SSI lawyer today

There is hope. For people with limited income who are disabled, blind, or seniors, the federal government’s Social Security Income program provides income assistance to eligible applicants. At the Law Office of James A. Graham, our New Orleans SSI lawyers are skilled at explaining when you’re eligible, and what benefits you can receive. We’ll work with your doctors and guide you through the detailed process of obtaining all the correct documentation. To apply for SSI in New Orleans, Slidell, or South Louisiana, please call us or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation.