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Hackensack Disability Law Blog

Woman faces problems when her SSI benefits stop

When a person in New Jersey is suffering from a disability, blindness or is 65 or older and has limited income and limited resources, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is an option to help them. While the rules are clear as to how people can get SSI benefits, there are important requirements when applying for SSI benefits and when receiving SSI benefits so the person can retain them without interruption. For those whose application is denied or who were getting the benefits and find them stopped, it is important to know what steps to take to try and deal with the situation for a better outcome.

These problems can arise regardless of the state the person is living in and stories that have impacted people outside New Jersey can provide a guideline of what can happen with SSI and help the person prepare for every eventuality. A woman in East Tennessee who survived cancer and a kidney transplant and was receiving SSI benefits saw her benefits stopped. The woman had been waiting for a significant period to be approved and finally was. However, they were stopped one year ago.

Exceptions for SSI benefits eligibility when institutionalized

New Jersey residents who are seeking or receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) should be aware of the rules that regulate who can receive the benefits. Since SSI-related benefits are for people who are blind, disabled or 65 and older, there are times that some who fit into these categories will need to be institutionalized. With SSI, it is imperative to know that the benefits will generally stop if the recipient is institutionalized. Being a resident in an institution that is considered "public" meaning that it is a state or federal facility with the person being there for a full calendar month will render them ineligible for SSI. However, there are exceptions that can allow the benefits to continue.

It can be a public institution if it is for medical treatment and Medicaid is paying more than half the cost for the person to receive care. For children under 18, Medicaid and/or private insurance must pay more than half for the care. The person will then be eligible for $30 per month. The SSI benefits can be paid in full for three months while institutionalized if: a physician gives certification that the stay is unlikely to go beyond three months and the person demonstrates that he or she must pay for home expenses for when they return.

Details about initial determinations for SSI benefits?

There are many terms that will be heard and read by a New Jersey resident who is seeking Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Some of them are relatively easy to understand. Others can be more complex and confusing.

When trying to meet the requirements to be approved for SSI benefits, however, some of these seemingly arcane and unimportant terms could be the difference between an approval or a denial. It is not necessary for an applicant to be able to teach a course on SSI, but it is wise to know what to expect when terms like "initial determination" are referenced.

Can children getting SSI benefits receive employment support?

While Supplemental Security Income can help New Jersey residents who meet the requirements to make ends meet and receive medical treatment, there are many people who get SSI-related benefits who either have the ability to work or would like to try to work. For young people, it is important to understand what options are available and how trying to work might impact their SSI benefits. Before moving forward with an attempt at work, knowing how the Social Security Administration handles these circumstances is imperative.

For people younger than 22, most income will not be counted by the SSA. Should the child be attending school regularly, the amount that is excluded from being counted will be higher. For 2018, the disabled student under 22 can exclude $1,820 per month. There is a limit of $7,350 per year. The amount can change annually. For those taking part in the Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS), the child 15 or older can save some of his or her income and resources so education and other necessities to work can be paid for. When SSI is calculated based on income, these savings will not factor in.

ARE MY SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS PROTECTED FROM CREDITORS?

As more and more seniors struggle with finances, those who rely on disability benefits through Social Security may be concerned about losing benefits for outstanding debts.

However, there are laws in place to protect you. Read on to learn more about how your disability benefits are secured.

Will the windfall offset affect my SSI-related benefits?

New Jersey residents who are getting Supplemental Security Income should be cognizant of certain rules that are not well-known, but could affect their benefits. For example, if the person the person is found to be eligible to receive both Social Security and SSI in the same month, the Social Security Administration is prevented by law from paying the full amount of the benefits in that month. This is known as the "windfall offset." Understanding how this will impact the benefits is important.

When a person is subject to the windfall offset, the retroactive benefits they receive for Social Security and SSI will be reduced for the month in which they are eligible for both. There are certain circumstances when the windfall offset will be applied. They are: if the person is eligible for both Social Security and SSI in the same month; if the person is eligible to get Social Security retroactively; and if the SSI would have been reduced had the person gotten the Social Security at the time it was due.

How are medical opinions assessed when seeking SSD benefits?

For New Jersey residents who are injured or ill and are applying for Social Security disability benefits, one of the most important factors in an approval or a denial of the claim is the medical evidence presented to prove the medical condition is present. However, there is a difference between medical evidence and medical opinions. Medical evidence comes from laboratory tests and findings, medical indicators or both. Qualified medical professionals and testers can assess the medical evidence. Medical opinion is an assessment on the part of the medical professional that could vary from one medical professional to the other.

It is important to understand how adult claims are affected by medical opinions and what is encompassed in them. The date when the filing of the application was done is important when the Social Security Administration considers a medical opinion. For those who filed on or after March 27, 2017, the SSA will view the opinion in a different context that it does for cases that were filed prior to that date.

After an SSD benefits denial, how does the Appeals Council work?

For New Jersey residents who are injured, ill or suffering from a condition that makes it impossible for them to work, Social Security disability benefits can be integral to their life. It can provide them with financial resources needed to make ends meet until they are able to try and work again. Unfortunately, it is a harsh reality that some claimants are initially denied SSD benefits. This can be a troubling time for people who were counting on being approved for SSD benefits. There are, however, four levels of appeal to try and have the initial decision changed so there will be an approval.

After reconsideration and a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge, there is a chance to bring the case to the Appeals Council. This is the third step in an appeal. Should the Appeals Council not yield a positive result, there is still a chance to file in federal court. The Appeals Council does not automatically hear an appeal -- it must agree to review it. If it agrees, the claimant or a representative can ask to appear before the council to present oral arguments. More evidence to bolster the case can be provided. Should the Appeals Council decide that there is a legal or policy issue that would be helped by the oral arguments, it will allow the appearance. Written statements can also be filed.

Does marriage affect your Supplemental Security Income benefits?

When a New Jersey resident is blind, disabled or at least 65 years old and has limited income, it may be possible to pursue Supplemental Security Income. There are, however, important points to remember when applying for SSI benefits. Some could have an impact on eligibility and more. Knowing about these factors before applying for benefits or when facing a sticking point during the application process can give the person a chance to address the situation and possibly be approved for SSI. One issue is how being married can influence SSI.

When a person is married, the Social Security Administration will determine the following: if the couple is eligible instead of being assessed as individuals; the rules as to how income is deemed and if the resources affect eligibility; or if it is a person under age 22 who meets the requirements for exclusion based on special income. People are viewed as married when they reside in the same household and are married under state law; when they present themselves as a married couple to others in the community; or when one of the couple, as the other's spouse, can get Social Security benefits.

Receiving Social Security Disability for your mental illness

Did you know that Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) covers mental illness? Disabling conditions can be physical or mental, something the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes. If you have a debilitating cognitive or psychological condition that impacts your ability to work, SSDI may be available to help sustain you and your family.

By knowing that you can receive life-sustaining benefits, you may shift your focus from work-related money problems to receiving proper treatment for your mental illness.