An Interview is Required Before Payment
After you receive a disability SSI approval, whether on your initial claim or on an SSI appeal, your local Social Security office will contact you for an interview to see if you have had any changes in your income, resources, living arrangements or other eligibility factors since you filed your claim.
Once they have all the information and supporting documentation they need to determine your payment amount for each of the past months and the current month, they will issue you a retroactive check for all months beginning with the month after your SSI application through the current month. For information about payment calculation see our article “How Does the Social Security Administration Decide How Much SSI to Pay Me When I Get an SSI Approval?”
Paying Back Public Assistance
If you received certain interim cash assistance from a state while you were waiting for your SSI claim to be processed, Social Security must use part of your back pay to reimburse the state.
The windfall offset applies to people who are eligible for Social Security and SSI back pay for the same months. The offset is used to keep people from getting more benefits than they would have had if both SSI and Social Security been paid on time. Usually, your SSI is paid in full and your Social Security Disability benefit is reduced by the amount of the offset, which is the amount that your SSI would have been reduced if Social Security had been paid when due.
In the rare case that your Social Security back pay is released to you first without reduction for the windfall offset, the offset amount will be withheld from the SSI back pay. If any months result in ineligibility due to the offset, the Social Security Administration will pay $1 in SSI benefits for these months to protect possible retroactive Medicaid eligibility.
If your SSI back pay is a very large amount, it may be paid out to you in three installments or less, each six months apart. There are three exceptions. All unpaid benefits will be paid in one lump sum if you have a medical condition that is expected to result in death within twelve months or you are no longer ineligible for SSI and it is expected you will remain ineligible for twelve months. The last exception allows increased payments in the first and second installments to satisfy certain debts.
Ongoing SSI Payment Dates
SSI payments are due on the first of each month. If the first falls on a weekend or federal holiday, the payment will be available on the last business day before the weekend or holiday.
Payment Delivery Choices
Currently, some SSI recipients receive their monthly payments in a check mailed to them; however, the check option is coming to an end. Beginning March 2013, the government will require that all SSI payments be made electronically. There are three electronic transfer-of-fund choices. The first is direct deposit into a checking, savings, or brokerage account at a financial institution such as a bank, credit union, or brokerage.
The second choice is to have a Direct Express® debit card. The government issues the card to you and the Treasury Department “loads” your SSI payment to the card each month. You can use the card as a debit card to make purchases or to withdraw cash. There are three ways to get a Direct Express® card. You can apply for one when you apply for SSI benefits. You can call the Treasury Electronic Payment Solution Contact Center at 1-800-333-1795 or sign up online at www.GoDirect.org
The third choice is an Electronic Transfer Account, which is a low-cost federally insured account to which your payments would be transferred each month. You can find a bank or other financial institution near you that offers this type of account by visiting www.eta-find.gov. All three choices assure safe delivery of the payments due you pursuant to your SSI approval.