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SSI Disability Benefit Law Questions

Supplemental Security Income (or SSI) — a United States government program — is one of the two programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSI is a need-based program that assists people who are disabled, blind, or 65 or older. The Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI), also administered by the SSA, pays benefits based on an individual’s income earning history. Various state Disability Determination Services (DDS), contracted by the Federal Government determine whether an individual is eligible or not. Below, Experts answer and respond to questions on laws related to the SSI.

What is the procedure for claiming SSI for disability?

The process for claiming disability is usually fairly simple but can often be time consuming. You may file a claim for Social Security Disability by going to the Social Security office nearest to you. Once the claim is filed, your disability will be verified by physicians engaged by the Social Security office as well as physicians or specialist that have treated you. The information is then processed to grant you the claim. In case you are denied benefits, you may hire a local social security attorney to help you fight for your claim.

I live in New Mexico where there is no state supplement available. How may I increase the money I receive as SSI disability?

Since the SSI rate is decided at the federal level, there’s not much you can do to increase the benefits you receive on your checks. The sum may be reduced if you start receiving income from other sources.

You have the option of applying for other benefits like food stamps, low income housing, utilities help, etc. so that you may use your SSI benefits for other needs. Also, not all earnings reduce your SSI benefits and you may even consider working part-time, but this will depend on your level of SSI Benefits.

My Social Security Disability is being garnished twice by the IRS: first at the payout and then again from the direct deposit of it in my bank account. Is this allowed?

Since Social Security Income (SSI) disability is a need-based program, your benefits usually cannot not be garnished by either creditors or the Federal government.

However, if you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI), Title II of the Social Security Act and Section 6331 of the IRS code allow the government to garnish the Social Security benefits to collect Federal Taxes owed. Disability benefits may also be withheld by other federal agencies for collecting dues, such as unpaid parking tickets, under the Debt Collection Act of 1996. Any other debts owed to the government on loans or mortgage too may be garnished.

It is possible that you are being garnished twice for these reasons. However, you are not to be garnished twice for the same debt. If that is the case, you may contact the Social Security Administration.

My spouse received retroactive SSI for the past two years and now my private insurer wants me to reimburse the payments it made during that period. What are my rights to compensation?

The terms of the policy will determine whether you are required to reimburse your insurer, who may sue you if you do not reimburse. However, the insurer may collect dues only through legal action from your assets and any income. Your best option will be to negotiate a settlement.

You also have the option of getting your fees reimbursed from your spouse’s SSA payments if you were appointed to represent your spouse before the SSA. You can file a petition with the SSA even though you have not previously registered for this benefit and submit a plea to pay reasonable costs. Get more information here.

Typically, the benefits are disbursed directly to individuals who are deemed capable of managing their own finances. In cases where this is not possible due to mental disability, the SSA may require a representative who manages the finances on behalf of the disabled person. Some states may have payee agencies to receive the benefits and disburse them as per instructions of the disabled person’s social worker. Some private agencies also provide this service for a fee. For any doubts on the legal aspects of the service, write to Legal Experts.
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