Many American households depend on SSI benefits. A quarter of folks over 65 count on SSI payment for 90 percent of their income. So, it’s hard to overstate the significance of this government benefit program.
Until the early 1970s, individual states had various SSI-like programs. Benefits, and the qualifications for these benefits, varied greatly in different jurisdictions. In 1974, the Social Security Administration assumed control over all these programs. The SSA instituted standard qualifications and benefits, as outlined below. However, the program is still quite complex.
Today, approximately eight million SSI beneficiaries split about $45 billion. At the Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm, we make it easier to obtain the benefits you need and deserve. We do not rest until you get a fair-sized piece of this financial pie.
Age-Related SSI Benefits
The traditional SSI retirement age is 65. That figure is related to the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program, which dates back to the 1950s. In 1983, Congress passed legislation which gradually raises the retirement age.
Folks born after 1955 are entitled to full benefits after they turn 66 years and two months old. Over the next few years, the retirement age will gradually and slowly rise until it reaches age 67 for people born after 1960.
Partial benefits are available earlier. Roughly speaking, most people who retire two years early are eligible for 70 percent benefits. Furthermore, good things come to those who wait, at least in terms of SSI financial benefits. Folks who retire about two years late are eligible for 132 percent benefits. According to the SSA and the common law, people reach a certain age on the day before their birthdays.
Frankly, if you are applying for age-related SSI benefits, you might only need an (SSI lawyer near me) for limited purposes. We are happy to help people fill out applications and refer them to financial advisers.
Blindness and SSI Disability Lawyers in Memphis
Sight is arguably the most important of the five senses. Some people think that if sight is compromised, the other senses get stronger in order to compensate for the loss. That’s a lovely thought which makes logical sense and has some factual basis. But for the most part, it’s not true.
In a nutshell, people qualify for blindness SSI benefits if their vision in either eye is worse than 20/200, even with corrective lenses. In other words, to qualify for SSI blindness benefits, your sight must be really, really bad.
The general rule is rather straightforward, but the specifics are not. According to the SSA, blind people have “central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of a correcting lens. An eye which has a limitation in the field of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees should also be considered as having a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less.”
A brief note here. 20/20 vision means the person can see at twenty feet what s/he should be able to see at twenty feet. Twenty feet is basically one car length. So, 20/200 vision essentially means that one car length seems like ten car lengths.
“Central visual acuity” is the leading factor in vision clarity, but it’s definitely not the only factor. Peripheral vision, depth perception, hand-eye coordination, and color perception all come into play as well.
So, in many cases, blindness is not just an ocular condition. It could also involve a brain injury. If that’s the case, an (SSA law firm), such as Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm for those in the mid-south, can work with a brain injury physician and present a compelling report to the claims administrator.
Furthermore, not everyone can tolerate strong eyeglasses or contact lenses. Therefore, the claimant’s vision might theoretically or ideally be better than 20/200. But SSI does not depend on theories or ideals. The only thing that matters is how well, or how poorly, the claimant can see in real life.
In this context, blindness knows no time limit. It does not matter if the condition is temporary or not. Occupation is irrelevant as well. People who depend on their vision for close-up or distance work are just as vulnerable to blindness as everyone else.
If you thought SSI and blindness were complicated, fasten your seat belt, because we are just getting started.
Some people think that “disabled” is synonymous with “bedridden.” That’s not true. Instead, people are disabled for SSI purposes if:
- They have a physical or mental condition,
- The impairment prevents them from obtaining SGA (substantial gainful employment, or earning a gross income greater than $1,090 per month), and
- That condition has lasted or will last, at least twelve months, or it is permanent.
If the applicant is a child under 18, it’s rather difficult to prove lack of SGA. So, the applicant can show s/he has a disability which causes “marked or severe functional limitation(s).”
Furthermore, “disability” is not just a medical term. The word also has educational, vocational, and other meanings. However, in this context, these other areas are not necessarily controlling.
Recall that blindness is a practical issue and not a theoretical one. Disability, on the other hand, is theoretical. The Claims Examiner will deny benefits if a person is deemed “qualified for a job”. Additionally, such a position need not be available in the part of the country where the claimant resides. The possibility of SGA makes applicants ineligible for SSI benefits, at least as far as Claims Examiners are concerned.
On a related residential note, non-citizens are eligible if they qualify. Lawful permanent residents (green card holders) can receive SSI benefits. A few other categories qualify as well. We have only touched on just a brief portion of different reasons to apply for SSI benefits. For consult with your attorney and to get the SSI benefits you deserve, contact the Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm. Our private law firm caters to taking care of the individual needs of our clients in an honest, ethical, and competent fashion while moving through the claim process as quickly as possible. To begin your SSI claim or if you or someone you love has already taken steps and want the power of the professionals, contact us at (901) 244-0057 or fill in our contact form and we will contact you.
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