Social Security pays benefits for people with disabilities under two separate programs, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Applying for either can be complicated and cumbersome, requiring extensive documentation of a claimant's medical condition (and, in the case of SSI, the individual's finances and living arrangements).
If physical, mental or cognitive issues make it difficult for someone to apply, a relative or friend can assist. This task can also be done by an employer, attorney or member of an advocacy organization. Another, more formal option is for the applicant to appoint an authorized representative to handle business with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
An applicant can choose a friend or family member to help with the following:
- Completing online or paper forms
- Calling the local Social Security office
- Interpreting material
- Gathering information and providing it to Social Security
- Attending medical examinations
- Receiving mail from the SSA (for example, at the helper's address)
If you are helping someone fill out the application, Social Security may ask for information about you, your relationship to the applicant and, if applicable, the organization you work for. Except in select circumstances, the applicant must sign the form (see below).