SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME (SSI) APPLICATION PROCESS AND APPLICANTS' RIGHTS
HOW TO APPLY FOR SSI BENEFITS
You can apply for SSI benefits by:
Visiting our Apply Online for Disability Benefits page to start the disability application process online. You may be eligible to apply for SSI through the online disability application.
Calling us at 1-800-772-1213 (or TTY 1-800-325-0778 if you are deaf or hard of hearing) and making an appointment to apply for SSI benefits. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, we also will take your telecommunications relay services (TRS) assisted calls at 1-800-772-1213. With an appointment, one of our representatives will help you apply for benefits. You can have an appointment to apply for SSI benefits on the telephone or in person at your local Social Security office.
Having someone else call and make the appointment for you or assist you with your application for SSI. For more information, see our chapter on HOW SOMEONE CAN HELP YOU WITH YOUR SSI; or
Visiting your local Social Security office to apply without making an appointment, but please anticipate a longer wait time.
If you call us or visit your local Social Security office, you will have to file an application.
WHEN TO APPLY
Apply as soon as possible so that you do not lose benefits. We cannot pay benefits for time periods earlier than the effective date of your application.
If you call us to make an appointment to apply and you file an application within 60 days of the call, we may use the date of your call as your application filing date.
If you do not keep this appointment and you do not contact us to reschedule the appointment, we will try to contact you. If we do not get in touch with you to reschedule the appointment, we will send you a letter. The letter will say that if you file an application within 60 days from the date of the letter, we will use the date of your original contact with us as your SSI application date.
If you are in a public institution but you will be leaving within a few months, you may not be eligible for SSI until you leave. You may, however, be able to apply before you leave so that SSI benefits can begin quickly after you leave. Check with the institution and contact us about filing an application under the "prerelease procedure."
|See our SSI Spotlight on Prerelease Procedure.|
If you are a disabled youth in foster care, eligibility for foster care payments in most States ends when you attain age 18. You may need the income support and health services that result from SSI eligibility to ease the transition to independent living. To help with this transition, SSA may accept an SSI application from you up to 180 days before your foster care eligibility ends due to age.
|See our SSI Spotlight on SSI Benefits for the Disabled Youth in Foster Care.|
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO APPLY
Anyone may apply for SSI.
There is no charge to apply.
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO RECEIVE HELP FROM SOCIAL SECURITY
We will complete the application forms for you based on information you give to us.
If you are applying because you have a disability or are blind and we decide that the medical information needed to make a determination is not available from existing sources, we will pay for you to have a medical exam or test and make the appointment for you. If you need a medical exam or test, you must go to the exam or test before we can determine whether you are eligible to receive SSI. In some circumstances we may also pay your travel costs to get to this exam or test.
|For information on when we pay for travel to medical exams, see our SSI Spotlight on Payment for Travel to Medical Exams or Tests.|
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO A REPRESENTATIVE
You may appoint someone as your representative to help you with your SSI claim and go with you to your appointment(s) with us.
|See our chapter on HOW SOMEONE CAN HELP YOU WITH YOUR SSI.|
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO A NOTICE
We will notify you in writing of any decision about your SSI eligibility or change in benefit amount. We will also send copies of all notices to your representative if you have one. Each notice about your eligibility or change in benefit amount will explain your appeal rights.
|See our chapter on SSA NOTICES AND LETTERS for further information.|
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO EXAMINE YOUR FILE
You or your appointed representative may request and examine or get a copy of the information in your case file. Also, you or your representative may review and copy the laws, regulations and policy statements used in deciding your case at www.ssa.gov/ssi/ssi-law-regs.htm.
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO APPEAL
You may appeal most determinations we make about your eligibility for SSI or changes we make in your benefit amount.
|See our chapter on the APPEALS PROCESS, for further information.|