Eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in Oregon

Does my medical condition qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?

The most important qualification for Supplemental Security Income is that you can’t work—at all—because of health problems.

Your exact diagnosis can be many things. Social Security maintains a large list of impairments that can qualify for benefits.

But even if your medical condition isn’t on the list, you can qualify if your symptoms are severe enough to severely limit your functioning.

The key is providing the medical records that show you can’t work.

An experienced disability lawyer can look at your individual situation and let you know your options.

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Can I get Supplemental Security Income benefits for a mental illness?

Yes. Mental health conditions that prevent you from working can qualify you for SSI. Disability benefits are not only for physical ailments.

Social Security’s official list of qualifying impairments includes anxiety, bi-polar disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and many others.
You can also combine mental health conditions with other health problems to create a strong claim for benefits. At Harder, Wells, Baron & Manning, we talk to many Oregonians whose mental health challenges form all or part of their disability claims.

More about Qualifying

What is the difference between Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

These are two different disability programs run by Social Security. They both provide financial assistance when you can’t work because of serious health problems. But the eligibility rules are different for each one when it comes to your work history, income and financial resources.

SSI can cover you if you have not worked and paid a substantial amount into Social Security in several years. To be eligible for SSI, your income, savings, and property must fall below certain levels. The monthly payment is a national amount—the same for everyone—set by Social Security.

SSDI covers you if you’ve worked a substantial amount recently and paid enough into the Social Security system, but you can’t work now. The monthly checks you receive under SSDI are based on a formula including your recent income and can be larger than what you get from SSI.

More about SSDI

Can I get both SSI and SSDI at the same time?

It is possible to collect both kinds of disability benefit at once under certain circumstances.
You could get SSI, for example, if your SSDI payments are low enough.

Some people who qualify for SSDI also receive SSI assistance to cover a gap in benefits.

Social Security requires a five-month wait from the time you are officially declared to have a qualifying disability to the time when you receive benefits. When your financial resources are low during those five months, you could get SSI pay for that period, even when you’ve been approved for SSDI.

Does my age matter when applying for Supplemental Security Income benefits?

It can. Social Security looks at many factors affecting whether you could go to work, including your age.

Social Security could decide that a younger person has the ability to learn and adapt to different kinds of jobs, making it harder to get disability benefits.

When you’re over 50, Social Security is more likely to conclude you can’t work at all because there aren’t as many jobs you could get trained and qualified to perform.

To make sure Social Security clearly understands your situation, work with an experienced disability lawyer.

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Can I get Supplemental Security Income for my child?

Children with disabilities that significantly limit their ability to function compared to their peers can qualify for SSI.

The added financial support can make a big difference in helping a family afford the services and supplies that go into raising a child with special needs.

Unlike adult disability benefits, there’s no need to prove the child cannot work. But to get these benefits, the family must document the child’s health impairments and meet the household financial requirements for SSI.

More about Children’s Cases

The Process of Getting Supplemental Security Income Benefits

How do I apply for benefits?

You can apply for Supplemental Security Income benefits by phone or in person at a Social Security office if the office is taking appointments.

Applying involves filling out forms and gathering documents like medical records for Social Security.

If you work with a disability attorney, your attorney can make sure your application is complete and gets filed correctly.

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How long do I have to wait after becoming unable to work before I apply for disability benefits?

You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you know you can’t work.

Social Security will make you wait five months from the date that it determines you first had a qualifying disability to when you can start receiving benefits. But you shouldn’t wait five months to apply.

The process takes long enough that by the time you’re approved for benefits, the five-month waiting period will probably already be over. So it’s better to get your claim started as soon as possible.

How long does it take to get Supplemental Security Income benefits?

In Oregon, we’ve been seeing it take six to eight months to get an initial decision on an SSI application.

If you’re denied and need to ask for a reconsideration, that takes another six months or so.

If you’re denied again and need to have a hearing with a disability judge, that can take a year.

More on Disability Denials

Is there a way to get SSI benefits faster?

You can’t make Social Security speed up its regular decision-making process. But in certain situations you can ask Social Security to put you in a special group of applicants who get faster decisions.

If you have an urgent, life-threatening condition, like many types of cancer, you can ask for a “compassionate allowance” that moves your case up for quicker approval.

Or if your financial situation is becoming desperate—maybe you’ll soon face homelessness—you can ask for faster approval because of dire need.

An experienced disability lawyer will know all the avenues available to you.

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What will happen at my disability hearing?

One of the most important steps in appealing a denial of disability benefits is going to a hearing with a Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ).

This is a rare chance to personally explain your story and your reasons for needing benefits directly to a key Social Security decision maker.

At your hearing, your lawyer and the judge will discuss legal details, the judge will ask you questions about your health problems and inability to work. Vocational or medical experts could testify about your case, and your lawyer could question them.

Typically there are only a few people in the meeting, and most hearings are short—less than an hour.

If the judge denies my disability benefits, can a lawyer still help me?

Yes. You have more avenues to keep appealing, and a lawyer can help you every step of the way.

Next you can ask the Appeals Council at Social Security to review the judge’s decision and overturn it.

If the Appeals Council still decides against you, you can keep your claim alive by filing a lawsuit against Social Security in federal court.

About Federal Cases

If I win my case, will I receive medical help in addition to money payments?

Yes. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits give you eligibility for Medicaid health coverage if you didn’t already have access to it.

What can I do if Social Security cuts off my disability benefits?

Every several years, Social Security may conduct a “continuing disability review” to see if you still qualify for benefits or if your health and ability to work have improved.

When you’re already receiving benefits and Social Security says they will stop, you can challenge that and hold on to your benefits.

Generally this process is easier than when you first applied, but a disability lawyer can help you get through it as smoothly as possible.

Working with Harder, Wells, Baron & Manning Disability Attorneys

When should I contact an attorney for my Supplemental Security Income claim?

You should apply for disability benefits as soon as possible, and get help from a lawyer.

The earlier you start, the earlier your official date of disability will be set. When you eventually win benefits, you will receive back pay for the time you spent waiting on the system to approve your claim.

So the further back your original disability date goes, the more you could receive in a lump sum payment from Social Security to start your benefits.

Experienced disability lawyers like those at Harder, Wells, Baron & Manning can guide you through the entire process, from applying to appealing, to help you get the best possible result.

How much does it cost to work with Harder, Wells, Baron & Manning on my disability claim?

It costs you nothing up front to get a disability lawyer.

Your lawyer is awarded a fee only when you win benefits.

And even then, the attorney fee comes out of your back benefits awarded by Social Security, not out of your pocket or your monthly disability checks going forward.

Does Harder, Wells, Baron & Manning provide telephone appointments?

Yes, we do.

When it’s hard for you to get to one of our offices because of your health and financial limitations (or it’s a situation like we’ve all faced with the COVID-19 pandemic closing offices and people maintaining physical distance from each other), our disability attorneys can still meet with you by phone.

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I’m interested in talking to Harder, Wells, Baron & Manning. How do I get in touch?

You can call us or send us a message online. We have five offices serving people in Oregon: Eugene-Springfield, Albany, Roseburg, Coos Bay and Medford.

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