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When are SSI Benefits Payable Should I be Approved for Benefits?

Assuming you are found disabled as of your application date, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are payable beginning the month after your application month, with benefits being payable based on welfare need (that is to say, with benefits being determined each month based on your household income and assets). Assuming you have concurrent claims for both SSI and Social Security disability insurance, it is in your best interest to have your Social Security lawyer advise you as to whether to process the SSI claim: in some circumstances, one is better off withdrawing the SSI (and we’ll discuss one such circumstance below).

Following the issuance of a favorable decision, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will look to process the SSI claim first, prior to the processing of any potential Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) claim that may be pending as well. Because SSI program benefits are provided based on need, the payment of these benefits is designed to take place more quickly: the entitlement determination is undertaken out of one’s local Social Security office. If it has been some time since the local office has determined one’s living circumstances/arrangements, including what income and assets are available in the household, it will first be necessary for the office to undertake what’s called a pre-effectuation review conference (or what is referred to as a PERC). This process is bypassed if an income/asset determination within the household has been undertaken recently.

Likewise, following the determination as to what one is entitled to receive, SSA will look to see if there are any interim assistance reimbursement liens that need to be addressed. For example, in Massachusetts, one’s entire first check will be sent the Commonwealth if any cash assistance benefits were paid in the interim through the Department of Transitional Assistance (i.e., receipt of EAEDC, Emergency Aid to the Elderly Disabled and Children). The state is then required to return that which is not appropriate for reimbursement of their monthly payouts to the claimant while they were awaiting a determination in their Social Security disability claim.

It is important to note that the initial SSI determination is made blind to the amount one may be entitled to receive in SSDI money (which is determined and deemed payable after the SSI determination has been made). Once the SSI has been determined and paid, one’s local SSA office will then make a new calculation as to how much SSI should have been payable now that the SSDI calculation as to entitlement has been made and those retroactive benefits (with respect to the SSDI claim) has been set aside. This new calculation (which process is called a windfall offset determination) invariably involves a determination that too much SSI has been paid, and that the amount of the overpayment now needs to be deducted from the amount of the retroactive SSDI benefits that have been set aside.

For this reason, it may be appropriate to make a determination rather immediately upon receipt of a favorable decision as to whether it might be advisable to withdraw the SSI claim as any amount already paid to the lien holder (such as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts mentioned above) will not be paid back. The Social Security regulations allow for an SSI claim to be withdrawn prior to the processing of the claim as long as certain procedural steps are properly undertaken. This can end up saving one’s self thousands of dollars as interim assistance liens are not required to be paid back out of one’s SSDI benefits.

Once the amount of the SSI retroactive benefit amount has been determined, it is important to understand that the retroactive benefits will typically be paid out in installments if the total amount due is greater than three (3) times the SSI Federal Benefit (FBR), which in 2021 would be $2382.00 n 2021 (or $794 X 3). The installments will be made in 3 installments or less, each six (6) months apart: the first two cannot exceed three (3) times the FBR, with the final installment paying the remaining amount due.

There are 3 exceptions to this general rule: 1) the entire amount will be paid if one’s medical condition is expected to result in death within a year, 2) you are no longer eligible for SSI on ongoing basis and this circumstance is expected to continue for the next twelve (12) months or 3) there is a documented urgent need for the early release of additional retroactive benefits.

Ongoing monthly benefits payable via direct deposit unless one specifically requires a check by mail. SSI benefit payments are due on the first day of each month.