How do I apply for SSI Disability?

By / Supplemental Security Income / 33 Comments

Learn how to apply for SSI Disability and how much of the SSI application can be completed online and how much has to filed by phone or in the office.

You Can Start Your Application Online
You can apply for SSI online if you are applying simultaneously for Social Security Disability (SSDI). To start an SSI application online, visit the Social Security Administration’s website Click on the SSI tab and the website will give you step-by-step instructions on how to apply for SSI Disability.

You can start the application online by completing the online Disability Report for an Adult or the online Disability Report for a Child. However, you must make an appointment with the Social Security Administration—called the SSA for short—to complete the base SSI disability application form, unless you as an adult are filing an application for Social Security Disability at the same time.

Although you can start your SSI application online, you do not have to. You can start your application by visiting a Social Security office or by calling 1-800-772-1213 for an appointment. Allow plenty of time for this call because it is likely that you will be on hold for a long time before reaching a representative.

Information Needed to Complete an Adult SSI Disability Report
You will need the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all the medical providers who have evaluated or treated you for your disabling conditions and a list of your medications. You will also need the date you believe you became disabled and a list of the places you have worked in the past fifteen years. Be thinking about what your work duties were at each employer and the physical and mental requirements of the jobs because you will need to describe these on the report.

Information Needed to Complete a Child’s SSI Disability Report
If you are applying for a child, the online Child Disability Kit can be quite helpful in completing the Disability Report. The kit includes a worksheet that lists additional information needed for an SSI application for children. Some of the additional information needed for a child’s SSI application is a copy of any Individualized Family Service Plan or the Individualized Education Program Plan your child may have. The report will also ask for the names of your child’s school, school teacher, and school speech therapist or occupational therapist and information about school testing.

Information Needed to Finish Your SSI Application
When you have your appointment to finish applying for SSI, you will need to provide financial information about yourself and about a spouse you live with. In the case of a child applicant, you will be asked about the income and resources of the child’s parents and stepparents who live with the child and the child’s parent. This information is requested so that the SSA can determine whether your or your child’s countable income and countable resources are within the limits for SSI eligibility. Some of the income and some of the assets may be excluded from counting against the SSI limits, but it is important to declare all of them.

Our article Why Do I Have to Give Information about My Family’s Income and Assets When I Apply for SSI Benefits? gives an overview of why family income and assets are considered. The article What Are Deemed Income and Resources and How Do They Affect SSI Payment Amount and Qualifying for SSI Disability? goes into more detail countable family income and resources and What Are Deemed Income and Resources and How Do They Affect an SSI Application for Children? provides examples of how parents’ income and assets affect a child’s application.

You will also need to provide information about your or your child’s living arrangements so that Social Security can determine whether you are in a living arrangement that allows SSI payment and whether you are receiving in-kind support and maintenance from persons in the household who are not your spouse or the child’s parent. For a discussion of how living arrangements relate to your SSI application, please visit our article Why Do I Have to Say Who Lives with Me and Who Pays the Household Bills When I Am Applying for SSI Disability?

Non-English Speakers and Conducting SSI Business
The Social Security Administration, known as SSA, is committed to making its programs accessible to everyone who is eligible including non-English speakers. The Administration will provide an interpreter free of charge upon request. Usually the interpreter, the non-English speaker, and the SSA employee converse in a three-way phone call. Interpretive services are available in many languages.

Sometimes the applicant wants to use a friend or family member as an interpreter. This is possible if the proposed interpreter is an adult and meets SSA’s guidelines and agree to the terms of interpretation. The interpreter must be able to read, write, and speak fluently in English and in applicant’s language or dialect; agree to provide an exact interpretation of both questions and responses and not initiate any communication or infer facts or dates not provided by the applicant or the SSA employee; agree to comply with confidentiality; have no personal stake in the outcome of the case; and demonstrate familiarly with basic terminology used in SSA’s materials and interviews. SSA typically does not accept an interpreter who is a minor.

Required Proofs
You are required to provide proof of your citizenship or alien status, your income, and the value of all your countable resources. You must also present proof the income and assets of any family members whose income and assets are considered in determining your eligibility. If you are a sponsored non-citizen, you need to provide documentation of your sponsor’s income and assets and of the income and assets of the sponsor’s spouse, if the spouse lives with the sponsor. Additional required proofs include proof of shelter and food costs where you live and of who pays those costs.

Applying for SSI Disability When You Are In a Public Institution
You are not eligible for SSI benefits when you are residing in a public institution such as a jail, a public hospital, or a nursing home where Medicaid is not paying for at least half of your care. However, you can file an advance application if you expect to be released from a public institution within a few months.

Under the pre-release procedures, you can complete an SSI application form and provide all the financial and medical information for your claim several months before you are released. SSA will process your claim as quickly as possible and tell you whether you qualify for SSI benefits once you are released from the public institution. If you receive an SSI approval, your benefits will start the first of the month after your release.

SSI and Foster Children
Disabled foster children are not eligible for SSI, but they may become eligible when they turn eighteen and are no longer supported by foster care payments. In order to ease a foster child’s financial transition into adulthood, SSI law allows foster children to apply for adult SSI benefits ninety days before their eighteenth birthday, following the instructions on how to apply for SSI disability for adults. This allows SSA time to evaluate the claim and have payment set up for the month after foster care support ends, assuming adult SSI disability qualifications are met.

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