The process of obtaining SSI benefits can certainly be a daunting one, especially in the age of COVID-19. That’s where we come in! Let’s dive into the what, the how, the when, and the whos of getting your SSI benefits.
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What are SSI benefits?
Firstly, let’s establish the difference between SSI (Social Security Income) benefits and SSI payments.
The Social Security Administration website describes SSI benefits as, “…monthly benefits to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older. Blind or disabled children may also get SSI.” Social Security is in charge of this program.
So, SSI payments are financed differently than their “benefits” counterpart. Here’s another helpful explanation plucked straight from the SSA website: “Employment taxes primarily finance Social Security retirement, survivors and disability insurance benefits.
“Generally, we pay Social Security benefits to eligible workers and their families, based on the worker’s earnings. Meanwhile, general taxes fund the SSI program, which serves the needy. SSI eligibility depends largely on limited income and resources.”
How do you get them?
You can apply online for SSI benefits here. Besides completing an application for the aforementioned benefits, you may also qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. After completing the online application process, a representative will contact you for more information.
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Now, someone else can submit on your behalf. If this happens, a Social Security representative will reach out for verification from you. They’ll need to verify your intent to file, get additional info, confirm what’s already provided, and ask you to give verbal consent for the application that was filled out online.
Next, you’ll be mailed a physical copy of your Application Summary for your record-keeping. Additionally, you apply by phone at 1-800-772-1213. If you would rather apply in person, you can reach out to your local Social Security office. Click here to find yours.
If your application is denied, you can push for an appeal by going to the Appeal a Decision page.
When should you get them?
As soon as possible! The Social Security Administration website recommends applying as soon as possible so you don’t lose your benefits. Here’s a description that goes into greater detail:
“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, we may use the date of your call as your application filing date.”
Now, if you don’t keep the appointment and you don’t reschedule it, SSA will reach out to you. If that doesn’t work, they’ll send you a letter. You’ll be given the option to file an application within 60 days of the date posted on the letter. If you adhere to that, then they’ll use the date of your original contact as your SSI benefits application date.
There are some caveats. If you work for a “public institution” but you’ll be leaving them in a few months, you may not be eligible for benefits until you leave. That being said, you may be able to apply prior to leaving so that your benefits take effect afterward.
Who can get them?
Monthly payments can be made to both adults and children with a disability (that includes blindness) and who also struggle under the weight of financial hardship. In addition, SSI benefits can be dispersed to people over the age of 65 without a disability, granted they “meet the financial limits.”
It’s important to know that if you have a child with a disability, the application process is a bit different than filing for adults. It’s a two-step process that starts with completing the online Child Disability Report followed by a phone call from a Social Security rep to finish the application process.
If you’re 65 and older, you must call by phone or go to your local Social Security office to apply, as there’s no online application.
Additionally, if you’re a disabled youth in foster care, you can apply for SSI benefits. Again, there are stipulations. “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.”
Applying for SSI benefits may seem intimidating, but with the necessary resources and information, you can forge ahead with ease. Click here to begin the process.