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This one is about: Kristi's Personal Experience with SSI (Social Security) as an Adult

(c) 1996 Wide Smiles
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Fri, 27 Sep 1996

Hi, I just wanted to share my experience of going thru the process of getting SSI.

I started the process for SSI back on August 1, 1989. An Independent Living Specialist (now my supervisor) at a center for independent living suggested that I apply for SSI since I was not working. My family and I had thought about applying before but we didn't know if it would interfere with my scholarships and all. We also didn't know if I had to be declared as an independent. My parents at the time were still claiming me on their insurance and income tax because I was still going to school.

As soon as I got finished with my meeting with the ILS, I went to Social Security and applied for both SSDI and SSI. I was obviously turned down for SSDI because I had not worked at all.

In October 1989 I got a denial letter from Social Security saying that I wasn't disabled enough. I appealed the decision in late Oct. In late Dec., I got a notice on the appeal (reconsideration) that I had been denied for SSI benefits. In late Feb., I did my appeal for the administrative law judge. I had to hire an attorney who specialized in SSDI and SSI claims. She also served on the Board of the center for independent living. In fact, she and I served on the Board at the same time. She has a disability as well.

It took six to six-and-a-half months to get a hearing date back then. Now the wait is a minimum 9 to 12 months. I think that my hearing before the administrative law judge was six years ago today.

On the day of the hearing I rode the bus for the very first time downtown by myself. My mom was supposed to go to be a witness but she was sick that day. Just the administrative law judge, court reporter, vocational expert, my attorney, and myself were the only ones in the room. I had to answer questions from both the judge and the attorney. I believe the judge was from the Wichita area.

About three weeks later, I got a notice in the mail from Social Security saying that the decision was favorable. On Nov. 5th, I got a back payment of around $4000. One-fourth of that had to go to the attorney.

I got two-thirds the amount of the usual SSI amount since my parents provided my shelter and food. I could have gone for the whole amount if I had shown that I was contributing to the household.

I received SSI benefits from Nov. 1990 to June 1991. In June 1991 I became employed. It took 11 months for my SSI benefits to stop. I just put my checks in a savings acct. and paid Social Security back the amount I was overpaid in those months.

Getting SSDI or SSI benefits is not an easy process. Most people are denied at the first level. The number of denials at the reconsideration level decreases a little. Most people are more likely to get benefits if they go before the administrative law judge. I'm not sure of the percentages of denials and favorable decisions for any of the three levels.

I have watched many people with disabilities go thru this process. Some of them are living on the edge waiting for benefits to come thru. The state of MO has general relief (assistance) for those who are awaiting decisions on their claims. The amount of GA per month is $80. The state of KS pays more but I can't remember what the exact figure is. Average SSI payment is roughly $470 per month. Some states such as CA have a programs to supplement SSI. Many states, including MO and KS, do not.

The eligibility requirements for adults and children are different. Adults' requirements are based on medical record (very important), income/assets, age, work history, and education.

Children's eligibility is determined differently. The following is an excerpt from "Disability Evaluation under Social Security:"

Disability in Children

Under title XVI, a child under age 18 may be considered disabled if he or she has a medically determinable Impairment(s) that is of comparable severity. An impairment(s) is of comparable severity if it limits a child's ability to function independently, appropriately, and effectively in an age-appropriate manner such that his or her impairment(s) and the limitations resulting from it are comparable to those which would disable an adult. (page 2)

For children to receive SSI benefits, Social Security will look at work history (if child is old enough to work), severity of his or her impairment(s), and do a functional assessment. (page 7 of the same book mentioned above).

SSI is a welfare-based program and it will be affected to some degree by the Welfare Reform Act.

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask.

Take care & talk to you soon,



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