Unable to work for health reasons and wondering if you should apply for SSI benefits? You’re not alone! A reader recently reached out with this question: “I want to know how I, today, can find and complete the SSI application for myself. I also have a 5 year-old disabled son who I also need to complete an application for SSI.” We have good news for you! The Social Security Administration (SSA) just made it easier to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
Can I Apply For SSI Online?
Last year, the SSA made it possible to start the process through an online request form on its website. This online form lets you request an appointment to apply for SSI benefits in person at your local Social Security office.
The SSA specifies that you can initiate this request for yourself, a minor child, or another person. If you (like this reader) wish to apply for a child, then you must provide your contact information to the SSA. You’ll also need to answer a few brief questions required to set the appointment so you can apply for SSI.
What Do I Need in Order to Submit my Request to Apply For SSI Online?
The online portal will ask a few questions before you can schedule your appointment. So it’s vital to have the following information ready before you start the process:
1. The name of the person who wishes to apply for SSI.
2. That person’s Social Security Number (SSN).
3. The applicant’s mailing address.
4. Claimant’s phone number.
5. An email address where the SSA can contact the person who wishes to apply for SSI (this one is optional).
While it’s exciting to have a faster, easier way to get the SSI claim process started, there’s an important caveat. If you already receive some Social Security benefits or have a claim pending, you must instead call the SSA rather than request an appointment online.
What Happens After I Start to Apply for SSI Online?
Once the SSA receives your request, they will mail you a letter with your appointment information. However, this may take 7-14 business days. This mailed letter will tell you where and when the agency scheduled your appointment.
It’s also true that in some cases, an SSA employee may call you to set up your appointment to apply for SSI.
Prepare for this meeting by gathering as much information as possible before your appointment date arrives. For example, they will want to know all the following information:
- Any income you receive from working, even if it’s just a few hours each week.
- Whether you receive any other payments or services that may count as “unearned income.” This can mean things like alimony, child support, TANF or SNAP benefits, etc.
- If you receive in-kind or deemed income, they’ll also want to review that information when you apply for SSI. In other words, do you live with a relative, friend or romantic partner, or live alone? Does anyone pay your rent, utility bills, or drive you around? Do you get free groceries from a local food bank, pantry, or church? Those things can count as in-kind or deemed income, since you don’t have to pay for them out of pocket.
You should also bring valid identification, your banking information, and any documents relating to your marital status and military service (if applicable).
How Can I Be Sure I’ll Qualify For SSI Benefits?
There are some basic requirements that everyone must meet in order to qualify for SSI benefits. You must either be at least 65 years old, blind, or disabled when you apply for SSI.
The SSA also uses its own unique definition of what the word “disabled” means for awarding benefits. This can confuse many people if you’re not familiar with the agency’s policies and requirements.
So if you meet at least one of these three basic requirements to apply for SSI, then what?
Next, the SSA evaluate your income (both earned and unearned) to determine if you qualify for SSI benefits. But the way the SSA reviews financial records from people who apply for SSI is fairly confusing. So, you might think you qualify, but it all depends on your living situation and how much outside help you receive.
Why Is Qualifying For SSI Benefits Important?
When a person is eligible for SSI benefits, they most often qualify for additional benefits. Recipients in some states also qualify for medical assistance through Medicaid. In addition, they might also qualify for food assistance through their state’s SNAP benefits program. And in some states, SSI recipients also qualify for supplemental payments.
While qualifying for SSI helps those in need by offering a monthly payment, it goes much further than that. It’s also a good way to obtain additional resources without applying to countless agencies. In the case of our reader wishing apply for SSI for both herself and her son, this can save both time and aggravation.
Get Free Expert Claim Help When You Apply for SSI
Hiring a Social Security attorney is an effective and cheap way to ensure you get legal representation for your claim. Simply fill out the form below or our contact form to see if you qualify for free expert help when you apply for SSI today:
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Lisa Allen is a writer and editor who lives in suburban Kansas City. She holds MFAs in Creative Nonfiction and Poetry, both from the Solstice Low-Residency Program in Creative Writing at Pine Manor College. Prior to becoming a writer, Lisa worked as a paralegal, where she specialized in real estate in and around Chicago.
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