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Legal representation can open the door to disability benefits

According to the Social Security Agency, the Supplemental Security Income program is designed to provide a safety net for individuals who are disabled and low-income. SSI benefits should help recipients meet such basic needs as food, clothing and shelter. However, many SSI recipients may still be close to the poverty line. For that reason, an attorney that focuses on disability benefits may advise applying for a variety of state and federal programs.

Although state and federal disability benefits programs share some similarities, eligibility in one does not necessarily qualify an individual in other programs. An important exception is Supplemental Security Income. According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, a state resident that receives SSI payments is automatically eligible for Medicaid. 

Like Social Security disability insurance, SSI is a federal program for individuals with physical and/or mental disabilities. Unlike SSDI benefits, SSI eligibility is not dependent on an individual having a work history. General tax revenues fund the SSI program, whereas Social Security taxes withheld from employees’ paychecks fund the SSDI program. 

Significantly, the SSA’s website notes that an applicant for SSI benefits is allowed to have a representative help them with their claim and attend any meetings scheduled with disability examiners. An attorney that focuses on disability benefits knows that legal representation might make the difference between an approved or denied claim. Without an attorney's help, even truly disabled applicants might have their applications denied. The reasons for a denial might range from insufficient medical evidence to missed deadlines. Yet whether the reason is evidentiary or procedural, an attorney can help spot areas where an application might be weak and bolster it with additional documentation.

Source: North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, “Who is Eligible for Medicaid?”

Source: Social Security Administration, “What is Supplemental Security Income?”

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