SSI provides monthly payments for people who are disabled, blind, or 65 and older and have very limited income and assets. Applying requires extensive documentation of your finances. If you are filing on the basis of a disability, you will have to provide evidence of your medical history.
The process typically includes an interview with an SSI specialist from the Social Security Administration (SSA). In-person SSI interviews have been restricted since March 2020 because of COVID-19, but they can take place by phone.
SSA allows people applying because of disability or blindness to do so online if they also meet all these criteria:
- They are between 18 and 65 years old.
- They are U.S. citizens living in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia or the Northern Mariana Islands.
- They have never married.
- They have not previously applied for SSI.
- They are simultaneously filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the other Social Security–run benefit program for people unable to work because of illness or injury.
Under these conditions, you can file online through the SSDI application process. SSA will contact you if its representatives need additional information. You will receive a printed summary of the application in the mail for your records.
Otherwise, you can apply by calling Social Security's national number, 800-772-1213, or contacting your local SSA office to schedule a telephone appointment. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, SSA field offices are closed to walk-in traffic and scheduling physical appointments only in select “dire need” situations.
During this period, the agency is with advocacy, faith and community organizations on campaigns to reach vulnerable populations — such as people with low income, limited English proficiency or mental illness — with information on SSI and SSDI and tools for applying.
Keep in mind
- Parents filing for SSI on behalf of a disabled child can begin the process by completing an online Child Disability Report. A Social Security representative will contact you to complete the application process.
- It's permissible for a friend, family member or other representative to assist someone who has difficulty navigating the filing process because of physical, cognitive or mental health issues. See SSA's Information for People Helping Others webpage to learn more.
- If you are receiving SSI, you can use an online My Social Security account to access some benefit services, such as setting up or changing direct deposit for your payments.
- Non-U.S. citizens who are in the country legally may be eligible for SSI but must meet Social Security Administration criteria related to their residency status.
Published March 30, 2021