Tampa, St. Petersburg/Clearwater

Supplemental Security Income

I have the privilege to represent people on their SSD, SSI and Child’s SSI cases locally in the Tampa Bay area and surrounding areas and also nationally on all levels, from initial up to and including in Federal Court.

If you are disabled and unable to work, you might be entitled to benefits by The Social Security Administration (SSA). SSA has for the most part two programs to provide for disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income.

What are Supplemental Security Income Benefits?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are disability benefits for those that have not paid into Social Security to earn Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSD) or have not paid enough to be insured. It is possible to receive SSD and SSI. The SSI benefit amount is a set rate and is generally slightly increased each year due to a cost-of-living adjustment. SSI is need based. You must be approved on a medical and non-medical basis. For the medical basis, you must also have a medical condition that meets the definition of disability under Social Security. However, it is unlike the definition for worker’s compensation, veteran’s benefits, short-term disability or other programs. It only pays benefits for total disability and has a very strict definition. The definition is that your physical and/or mental condition has lasted or expected to last for at least one year or to result in death, and it must prevent you from not only doing your past work but also any other job. Thus, it is important that you apply for SSI as soon as you believe that the disability will prevent you from working for one year or more. If you are approved on a medical basis, you will then have an interview with SSA to provide information, like when you apply, related to your income, assets and resources. You must meet the criteria to be approved on the non-medical basis. In general, you are allowed to own your own home and have exclusions for the amount of money you and your spouse, if you’re married, have in your checking and other accounts. For more information, go to SSA’s website, www.socialsecurity.gov or request a brochure from your local SSA office.

The process to file an application and the overall process can be long and overwhelming, and it may be intensified while a person is ill, may be lacking in medical care and has no income for an extended period of time. Need to Apply for SSI?

SSD, SSI and Child’s SSI Informational Video for Claimants to inform them on what can be done prior to the Administrative Law Judge Hearing (ALJ)

After a person has applied for SSD, SSI or Child’s SSI, they’ll either be approved or denied on average in a few months of submitting their application. If they are denied at the initial stage and they appeal, they’ll do a Request for Reconsideration. If they are denied at that stage and do an appeal, they’ll Request a Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. (There is a much more detailed description of this process on our FAQ’s page page) If the claimant submits the appeal for the Request for Hearing within the applicable time frame, the hearing will take place on average in 10-12 months, and it in and of itself can seem terrifying and overwhelming, especially when a person is not feeling well and has a lot at stake on the outcome. To assist you by demystifying the process, the below videos will hopefully help to explain some things you may do to prepare prior to the hearing, tips on what you can do the day of the hearing, and what to expect during and after the hearing.

SSD, SSI and Child’s SSI Tips for the Day of Your ALJ Hearing

5 Helpful Tips for the Day of Your SSD, SSI or Child’s SSI ALJ Hearing

  1. Arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled time. You may want to take a dry run to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) where your hearing will take place so you know how to get there, and you can get directions from www.mapquest.com. You may also want to bring the Notice of Hearing and contact ODAR if you get lost on the way to the hearing.
  2. Turn your cell phone off while you are at ODAR.
  3. Sign in with the security guard or the front desk, depending upon the ODAR.
  4. Dress however you normally do.
  5. Keep your voice up during the hearing as the microphone is used for recording and not for amplification purposes.


What to Expect During an ALJ Hearing

It has been shown statistically that a person who is represented by a Social Security attorney has a higher percentage of being approved for benefits. Attorney Amy Bellhorn represents Social Security Disability, Supplemental Security Income and Child’s SSI clients at the following levels: initial, reconsideration, hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, Appeals Council and Federal Court. Should you decide to hire our law firm who represents people in Tampa and Clearwater/St. Petersburg and surrounding cities, you will have a licensed attorney, not a non-attorney representative, attend your hearing with you and handling your case. We also represent client’s throughout the State of Florida and the country, depending upon the stage of the case and if a video hearing can be done if approved by the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review that has the case. If you believe we may be able to assist you, you may contact us for a FREE consultation by filling out our online form or call our office at (727) 822-7121, and attorney fees are paid only if your case is won; there is no up front cost to you, excluding Cessation cases.

Click here to see Frequently Asked Questions