Why Aren’t I Receiving SSI Benefits?

Even if you have a qualifying disability, you might not be receiving benefits.  Here are the top reasons why applicants may not receive benefits in spite of their eligibility – and ways to avoid making the same mistakes!

The Social Security Administration needs permission to review your financial records – make sure you give it to them!!!

Because SSI is a need-based program, SSA must be able to determine your eligibility by reviewing your financial information.  Upon application, you must give SSA permission to review records from banks, credit cards, loan companies, trust companies, savings associations, and any other source that would reveal your current financial status.  This may include giving SSA access to financial information belonging to others, i.e. your spouse or others living in your household.

You must be in the United States to receive benefits –  if you leave, make sure to come back!!

You lose your eligibility for SSI benefits for any month during which you are outside of the United States for the entire month.  If you are outside of the United States for 30 or more days, you are not considered to be back in the United States until you are back for 30 days. You may be eligible for SSI benefits in the month in which the 30 days end if you continue to meet all other eligibility requirements (CFR 416.215).

Apply for all the benefits to which you are entitled!!

If you do not apply for certain other benefits which you are entitled, you may be denied SSI benefits or have your payments suspended.  These other benefits include annuities, pensions, retirement benefits, or disability benefits.  Specifically, you must apply for veterans’ compensation and pensions, workers’ compensation payments, Social Security insurance benefits, and unemployment insurance benefits (CFR 416.210).

Drug and/or alcohol abuse CANNOT contribute to your disability!!

Drug addiction and alcoholism are major impediments to your initial award of benefits.  Most judges are very careful to evaluate whether the severity of your disability is a result of your addiction.  If you receive SSI benefits and the judge finds that drug addiction or alcoholism is a contributing factor material to the determination of your disability (CFR 416.935), you must seek appropriate treatment for your addiction.  You will lose eligibility for SSI benefits if SSA determines that you have failed to comply with the treatment requirements. If your benefits are suspended because you failed to comply with treatment requirements, you will not be eligible to receive benefits until you have demonstrated compliance with treatment for a period of time.

The Social Security process is complex and has many rules.  Applicants should seek legal advice from a social security attorney before they proceed with an application.