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The Benefits of SSI

Fresno & Madera SSI Attorneys 

Supplemental Security Income or SSI are benefits provided to disabled individuals who may not qualify for Social Security disability benefits or have never worked. These benefits include monthly cash benefits - payable back to the month the claimant applied, and medical benefits. Just the same, navigating the bureaucracy of the Social Security Administration can be daunting, especially for those grappling with a disability. If you are seeking SSI benefits, it helps to have an experienced disability benefits attorney to guide you through the process.

Peña & Bromberg, PLC is committed to fighting for the rights of the disabled community in Central Valley, California and throughout the Nation. If you need assistance applying for Supplemental Security Income, our experienced attorneys will make sure you receive the benefits you deserve.

Monthly Cash Benefit

Although all recipients of SSI are eligible for the same base amount, your actual monthly payment depends on a number of factors, such as whether you have income, whether you are married and whether you receive a state supplement. 

Currently the monthly payment is based on the federal benefit rate of $735 individuals and $1,103 for couples, while the state supplementary payment or SSP in California is $160.72 for individuals and $407.14 for couples. Additionally, the federal rate is adjusted when the SSA authorizes cost of living increases. Bear in mind that there are income limits that apply to SSI and your monthly income cannot exceed the federal benefit rate. 

In computing income, the SSA considers (1) earned income, (2) other public benefit payments, pensions, alimony or child support - referred to as unearned income, (3) a portion of income earned by other people in the household, or deemed income and (4) any support for rent, shelter or food provided by a friend or relative, or in-kind income. 

In order to ensure that you receive the maximum benefit amount, it is very important to work with an experienced disability attorney who has knowledge of how monthly SSI payments are calculated.

Backpay

Given the fact that the SSI application process is complicated and lengthy, many claimants experience long delays in receiving their benefits. For this reason, SSI recipients also receive past due disability benefits, depending on how long it has taken the SSA to resolve the case. 

For SSI, backpay is available up to the first month after the claim was filed. In many cases, it takes between three months and two years for the SSA to approve an SSI application, which means that the amount of backpay could be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Generally, backpay for SSI monthly payments is paid out as a lump sum.  Depending on the amount that is owed, however, the payment may be made in installments. 

In particular, if the amount owed is more than three times the maximum monthly benefit amount, before deductions for income, the backpay will made in partial installments in three payments, at 6-month intervals. The first two payments are limited to no more than three times the maximum monthly benefit, and the remainder is paid in the final installment.

There are some exceptions to these rules and the payments can be increased if the funds are needed to purchase a home, to pay medical expenses, or for other necessities such as housing, food and clothing. Moreover, lump sum payments can be provided to those who are not expected to live more than 12 months or who subsequently become ineligible for SSI after initially being approved. 

Medical Benefits

Once you are approved for SSI you are also automatically eligible for Medi-Cal benefits. Medi-Cal is a joint state/federal program (known as Medicaid in other states) that provides health care coverage to low income families, qualified pregnant women and children, as well as those receiving SSI. In California, there is no need to apply for Medi-Cal since you will automatically be enrolled by the SSA when you are approved for SSI. Medi-Cal covers doctor’s visits, prescription medications, lab tests, and radiological exams, hospital care, vision and hearing care and dental care. 

Food Stamps

Unlike other states, individuals who receive SSI in California are not eligible for benefits under the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) because the state provides recipients with an SSP. Nonetheless, you may be able to obtain SNAP benefits while your SSI application is pending, if your claim is denied or you move to another state.

California Disability Benefits Attorneys

If you have questions about or need assistance applying for SSI benefits, call the office of Peña & Bromberg, PLC today or complete the contact form on our website. We serve clients in the Central Valley region of California and throughout the United States.