Your Free Guide to Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

ssi guide cover

Your Free Guide to Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

You will learn about:
  • How the Supplemental Security Income program works
  • Which requirements you need to meet to qualify for SSI
  • When payments are due, maximum benefit amounts and more!

120 min – Estimated reading time

Your Free Guide to Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Your Free Guide to Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

ssi guide cover

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

senior woman with nurse ssi

Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is a federal assistance program that provides supplemental financial benefits to qualified aged, blind or disabled individuals. The program is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), which is responsible for determining the eligibility criteria for the benefit program.

Through this program, beneficiaries with limited income and resources can receive monthly benefit payments to use toward basic needs, like food, shelter and clothing. For more information about SSI, including eligibility criteria, benefit amounts and how to apply, continue reading the sections below.

How SSI Works

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays monthly benefits to individuals who are: 

  • blind, 
  • disabled or 
  • 65 years or older. 

These individuals must have limited income and resources, which means their ability to earn money is impacted. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has strict definitions for “resources,” which are things that have cash value. Learn more about resource limits in the section “Resource Requirements”.

The purpose of SSI benefits is to supplement the limited income that a beneficiary receives to meet their basic needs. Qualified beneficiaries must meet the SSA’s definitions of “aged,” “blind” or “disabled,” all of which are covered in the “Defining ‘Aged,’ ‘Blind’ and ‘Disabled’” section. 

Then, potential beneficiaries must complete the application process to be considered for the program. During the process, they will be required to submit the following types of information:

  • Personal information
  • Medical information
  • Work history information
  • Citizenship status
  • Income and resources information

After applying, the SSA will mail a determination of benefits to the applicant. Upon receiving approval, beneficiaries will receive monthly payments to use toward their basic needs. 

SSI vs. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

SSI is a separate program from the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, which is another benefit program provided by the Social Security Administration. While these two programs both provide cash benefits, they differ in eligibility requirements and program specifics.

SSI is based on financial need, while SSDI is based on an individual’s work history and Social Security tax payments. To receive SSI benefits, applicants are required to show proof of low income and limited resources. To receive SSDI benefits, applicants are required to show proof of having enough work credits (which are based on taxable employment). 

Beneficiaries who qualify for SSI can also gain access to food assistance and Medicaid, while SSDI recipients qualify for Medicare.

SSI also offers supplemental benefits in some states, while SSDI does not differ at the state level in any respect. 

Learn more about SSDI here: https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability/.

Learn more about Medicare here: https://www.medicare.gov/.

SSI Program Contact Information

Social Security Administration

Toll-free:
1-800-772-1213

Online email form: https://secure.ssa.gov/emailus/

Eligibility Requirements for SSI

senior couple with documentation ssi eligibility requirements

In order to receive SSI benefits, beneficiaries are required to meet certain eligibility requirements regarding their:

  • Age or health,
  • Income level, 
  • Resources, 
  • Living arrangements, and
  • Citizenship. 

Who is eligible for SSI?

To qualify for SSI benefits, you must meet one of the following conditions:

  • Be at least 65 years of age
  • Be blind
  • Be disabled

In addition to meeting one of the above conditions, you must also meet all of the following requirements:

  • Have limited income
  • Have limited resources
  • Be a U.S. citizen or national
  • Live in one of the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands
    • If you live in American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, you are not eligible to receive SSI.
  • Not be absent from the U.S. for a full month or for at least 30 consecutive days
  • Are not residing in an institution at the government’s expense

In addition to a qualified person as defined above, an “essential person” may also qualify for SSI benefits. An essential person is someone who cares for the qualified individual receiving SSI benefits. 

To qualify as an essential person and receive SSI benefits, individuals must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Have continuously lived in the same home with the qualified individual since December 1973
  • Are not eligible for SSI benefits on their own as an eligible individual or as an eligible spouse
  • Has not been eligible for any state assistance since 1973

Defining “Aged,” “Blind” and “Disabled”

The SSA has strict definitions for each category of eligibility. To receive SSI benefits, you must fall into the “aged,” “blind” or “disabled” category. The SSA defines aged as being 65 years of age or older. 

To qualify by meeting the definition of blind (as a child or as an adult), you must either:

  • Have a central visual acuity for distance of 20/200 or less in your better eye with the use of a corrective lens; or
  • Have a visual field limitation in your better eye so that the widest diameter of the visual field forms an angle no greater than 20 degrees. 

If neither of the above applies to you but you have a visual impairment, you may still qualify for SSI on the basis of disability. 

To qualify by meeting the definition of disabled as an adult, all of the below must be true:

  • Your physical or mental impairment prohibits you from working substantially.
    • The SSA considers substantial gainful activity (SGA) to be any work in which you earn more than $1,350 per month, or $2,260 for statutorily blind individuals.
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for a period of at least one year or to result in death.

Qualifying Medical Conditions

The SSA has a list of medical conditions for each major body system that are considered severe enough to prevent you from working. If your medical condition is not on the list, the SSA will decide if it is as severe as a similar medical condition that is on the list. See the list of categories below and their source links for more information:

  1. Musculoskeletal System
    Qualifying disorders of the musculoskeletal system include but are not limited to: joint dysfunctions, disorders of the spine, amputations, fractures and soft tissue injuries, infectious, inflammatory, or degenerative processes, vascular or metabolic diseases, and more. Find more information on musculoskeletal qualifying disorders here:
    https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/1.00-Musculoskeletal-Adult.htm
  2. Special Senses and Speech
    Qualifying senses and speech disorders include but are not limited to: visual disorders or impairments, hearing loss, loss of speech, and more. Find more information on qualifying special senses and speech disorders here:
    https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/2.00-SpecialSensesandSpeech-Adult.htm
  3. Respiratory Disorders
    Qualifying respiratory disorders include but are not limited to: chronic obtrusive pulmonary disease (chronic bronchitis and emphysema), pulmonary fibrosis and pneumoconiosis, asthma, cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, cancers and autoimmune disorders that affect the respiratory system, and more. Find more information on qualifying respiratory disorders here:
    https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/3.00-Respiratory-Adult.htm
  4. Cardiovascular System
    Qualifying cardiovascular disorders include but are not limited to: chronic heart failure, Ischemic heart disease, recurrent arrhythmias, symptomatic congenital heart disease, heart transplants, aneurysms, chronic venous insufficiency, peripheral arterial disease, and more. Find more information on qualifying cardiovascular disorders here:
    https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/4.00-Cardiovascular-Adult.htm
  5. Digestive System
    Qualifying digestive disorders include but are not limited to: gastrointestinal hemorrhaging, chronic liver disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), short bowel syndrome (SBS), liver transplants, and more. Find more information on qualifying digestive disorders here:
    https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/5.00-Digestive-Adult.htm
  6. Genitourinary Disorders
    Qualifying genitourinary disorders include but are not limited to: chronic kidney disease with chronic hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, kidney transplant, nephrotic syndrome, and more. Find more information on qualifying genitourinary disorders here:
    https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/6.00-Genitourinary-Adult.htm
  7. Hematological Disorders
    Qualifying hematological disorders include but are not limited to: Hemolytic anemias including sickle cell disease and thalassemia, disorders of thrombosis and hemostasis, disorders of bone marrow failure, and more. Find more information on qualifying hematological disorders here:
    https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/7.00-HematologicalDisorders-Adult.htm
  8. Skin Disorders
    Qualifying skin disorders include but are not limited to: Ichthyosis, Bullous disease, chronic infections of the skin or mucous membranes, dermatitis, Hidradenitis Suppurativa, genetic photosensitivity disorders, burns and more. Find more information on qualifying skin disorders here:
    https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/8.00-Skin-Adult.htm
  9. Endocrine Disorders
    Qualifying endocrine disorders include but are not limited to: pituitary gland disorders, thyroid gland disorders, parathyroid gland disorders, adrenal gland disorders, diabetes mellitus and other pancreatic gland disorders, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and more. Find more information on qualifying endocrine disorders here:
    https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/9.00-Endocrine-Adult.htm
  10. Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems
    Only non-mosaic Down syndrome that affects multiple body systems is evaluated by the SSA. Find more information here:
    https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/10.00-MultipleBody-Adult.htm
  11. Neurological Disorders
    Qualifying neurological disorders include but are not limited to: epilepsy, coma or persistent vegetative state (PVS), benign brain tumors, Parkinsonian syndrome, cerebral palsy, spinal cord disorders, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), post-polio syndrome, myasthenia gravis, muscular dystrophy, peripheral neuropathy and more. Find more information on qualifying neurological disorders here:
    https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/11.00-Neurological-Adult.htm
  12. Mental Disorders
    Qualifying mental disorders include but are not limited to: Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders, neurocognitive disorders, depressive and bipolar related disorders, intellectual disorder, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, somatic symptom and related disorders, personality and impulse-control disorders, autism spectrum disorders, eating disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, trauma and stressor-related disorders, and more. Find more information on qualifying mental disorders here:
    https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/12.00-MentalDisorders-Adult.htm
  13. Cancer
    All cancers are evaluated by the SSA except for certain cancers associated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Find more information here:
    https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/13.00-NeoplasticDiseases-Malignant-Adult.htm
  14. Immune System Disorders
    Qualifying immune system disorders include but are not limited to: Systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic vasculitis, systemic sclerosis (scleroderma), polymyositis and dermatomyositis, undifferentiated and mixed connective tissue disease, immune deficiency disorders (excluding HIV), inflammatory arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections, and more. Find more information on qualifying immune system disorders here:
    https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/14.00-Immune-Adult.htm

Compassionate Allowances and Quick Disability Determinations

You may qualify for an expedited disability claim process if you have a medical condition that falls within a Compassionate Allowance. These conditions are those that usually qualify for disability, such as acute leukemia, ALS or pancreatic cancer. The SSA implements the Quick Disability Determinations (QDD) process, a computer screening process, to identify cases with a high probability of approval.

If you have a condition that qualifies for a Compassionate Allowance, you can begin receiving benefits as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed. Click here to view the list of all conditions that qualify for a Compassionate Allowance, or see below: https://www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances/conditions.htm.

The Disability Determination Process

After you apply for SSI the SSA will review your case and determine if you qualify for benefits on the basis of meeting the age, blindness or disability criteria. If you are applying on the basis of disability, your condition will be reviewed to ensure it meets all requirements.

The Role of SSA Field Offices and the DDS in Processing Claims

The SSA has field offices throughout the United States. When you apply for SSI, your claim is initially handled at your local SSA office. This office is responsible for verifying the nonmedical information you provide in your application. If you are applying on the basis of disability or blindness, the SSA office sends the application and all required information to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office.

Disability Determination Services (DDS) offices handle the medical information in your application. DDS offices, also known as state agencies, determine whether your condition qualifies you by obtaining evidence from your own medical sources (i.e. your doctors and health care professionals). If medical evidence is unavailable or insufficient, the DDS may schedule a consultative examination (CE) to obtain additional evidence needed to determine your medical eligibility.

When the DDS determines your medical eligibility, it sends the application back to the local SSA office to take action. If you are approved, the SSA will determine your benefit amount and initiate the benefit payments. If you are not approved, the SSA will keep your application on file in the event you wish to appeal. Learn more about denials and appeals in the “SSI Denials and Appeals” section. 

Income Requirements

You must meet the qualifications for having a “limited income,” which comprises any monthly income you may earn/have earned. The SSA counts the following types of income:

  • Earned income
    • Money you earn from working
  • Unearned income
    • Money you receive from other sources, such as Social Security benefits, workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs, friends or relatives
  • In-kind income
    • Food or shelter you get for free or for less than the fair market value
  • Deemed income
    • Money from your spouse (if you are living together), your parents (if you are living together) or your sponsor (if you are a foreign national)

SSI Income Limit

To receive SSI benefits, your total countable income may not exceed the maximum federal benefit amount. For 2022, the maximum monthly income you can earn and still qualify for SSI is no more than $841 for an individual, $1,261 for a couple and $421 for an essential person. 

Not all sources of income are counted by the SSA. Refer to the “What income is not counted toward the SSI income limit” section to learn more about income that is not counted.

Understanding In-Kind Support and Maintenance

In-kind support and maintenance (in-kind income) is any food and groceries or shelter and rent somebody else provides for you. The SSA counts this kind of income in determining the total amount of your SSI benefits. 

Receiving in-kind support and maintenance affects your monthly SSI benefit. Depending on the value of the in-kind help you receive, your monthly SSI benefits can be reduced by as much as $284,66.

In-kind support and maintenance will not impact your total amount of SSI benefits if:

  • You live alone and pay for your own food and shelter, OR
  • You live only with your spouse and minor children and nobody outside the household pays for your food and shelter, OR
  • You live with other individuals and pay your portion of expenses toward food and shelter.

What income is not counted toward the SSI income limit?

Certain incomes are not considered or counted toward the SSI’s calculation for how much SSI benefits you will receive. These are the types of incomes that are not counted: 

  • The first $20 of income received in a month 
    • This is also known as a “general income exclusion”
  • The first $65 of other types of earnings and half of earnings over $65 received in a month
  • The value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (food stamps) received
  • Tax refunds
  • Home energy assistance
  • Grants, scholarships, fellowships or gifts used for tuition and education
  • Need-based assistance funded by state, local or Indian tribal governments
  • Small amounts of income received irregularly or infrequently
  • Interest or dividends earned on countable resources (or resources excluded under other federal laws)
  • Need-based assistance for food or shelter from non-profit agencies
  • Cash or in-kind loans
  • Money someone else spends to pay your expenses for items other than food or shelter
  • Income set aside under a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) 
  • Earnings up to $2,040 per month to a maximum of $8,230 per year for students younger than 22
  • Impairment-related work expenses for items or services that a disabled or blind person needs in order to work
  • Disaster assistance
  • The first $2,000 of earnings received per calendar year for participating in certain clinical trials
  • Refundable federal and advanced tax credits received on or after January 1, 2010
  • Certain exclusions on Indian trust fund payments paid to American Indians who are members of a federally recognized tribe

Resource Requirements

In addition to checking your income level, the SSA counts your resources (sometimes referred to as “assets”) to determine if you qualify for SSI benefits. Resources are things that you own that have a cash value, which you can quickly convert into cash. 

The SSA counts the following types of resources:

  • Land
  • Personal property
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Bank accounts
  • Life insurance
  • Vehicles
  • Deemed resources
    • The SSA can deem a portion of resources from your spouse, parent, parent’s spouse or sponsor as belonging to you. 

SSI Resource Limit

To be eligible for SSI, your countable resources cannot be worth more than $2,000 (or more than $3,000 if you are married)

What resources do not count toward the SSI resource limit?

The SSA does not count the following resources when determining your eligibility for SSI benefits:

  • Your home and the land on which it sits
  • One vehicle
    • You or a member of your family must use the vehicle for transportation
  • Household goods and personal effects
  • Life insurance policies with a value of $1,500 or less
  • Burial plots or spaces for you or immediate family members
  • Burial funds up to $1,500 each for both you and your spouse
  • Property you or your spouse use in a trade or business or on your job
  • Money in a Plan to Achieve Self Support (PASS)
  • Up to $100,000 of funds in an Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account established through a state ABLE program

Living Arrangements and Residency Requirements

Your living arrangements impact your SSI benefits. Your benefit amount varies depending on where you live. You may be entitled to the maximum SSI benefit payment amount if:

  • You live in your own home (own or rent) and are responsible for paying your own food and shelter costs.
  • You live in someone else’s household and pay for your own food and shelter (i.e. rent). 
  • You are homeless.
    • Fore more information about SSI benefits for homeless individuals, continue reading the next section.

Your SSI benefits will be reduced by no more than a third of the federal SSI benefit maximum if:

  • You live in someone else’s household and do not pay your food and shelter costs.
  • You live in someone else’s household and pay only a portion of your food and shelter costs.
  • You live in your own home (own or rent) but someone else pays for all or part of your food, shelter or fuel costs.
  • You are in a hospital or nursing home for an entire month and Medicaid pays for more than one-half of the cost of care.
  • You are younger than 18 years of age and are in a hospital or nursing home for an entire month, and private insurance and/or Medicaid together pay more than one-half your cost of care.
  • You are in a public or private medical treatment facility, and Medicaid is paying for more than one-half of the cost of care. 
    • If you are in the facility for an entire month, you can only receive an SSI benefit of $30 (plus any supplementary state payment, if applicable.).

SSI Benefits for the Homeless

If you are homeless, you are still eligible to receive SSI benefits. Your total benefit payment can be up to the federal SSI maximum, depending on other eligibility criteria. You have the same rights to benefits as individuals who rent or own their own homes.

If you are living in a public shelter for the homeless, you are eligible for the maximum SSI benefit payment in your state for up to six months out of any nine-month period. 

You do not need to have a permanent address to receive SSI benefit payments. If you qualify for benefits, the SSA can pay you in one of the following ways:

  • Direct deposit into your own bank account
  • Payment sent to a relative or third party that you have assigned as your representative payee to receive your SSI payments
    • This can be a person, agency, organization or institution who handles your benefit payments.
  • Deposit into a Direct Express debit card

Citizenship Requirements

In order to qualify for SSI benefits, you must be:

  • a U.S. citizen, 
  • U.S. national, or 
  • a qualified non-citizen. 

Qualifying Non-Citizens

Not all non-citizens are qualified for SSI benefits. If you belong to one of the following categories of non-citizens, you may qualify for benefits:

  • Lawfully admitted for permanent residence
  • Granted conditional entry
  • Paroled into the United States
  • Admitted as a refugee
  • Granted asylum
  • Non-citizen removal is being withheld
  • Cuban entrant
  • Haitian entrant
  • Admitted as an Amerasian Immigrant
  • Admitted as an Afghan or Iraqi Special Immigrant

In addition to belonging to one of the above categories, you must also meet one of the following requirements:

  • You were legally living in the U.S. on August 22, 1996 and you are blind or disabled
  • You were receiving SSI on August 22, 1996 and you are currently lawfully residing in the U.S.
  • You were lawfully admitted for permanent residence and you have a total of 40 work credits in the U.S.
    • Credits are based on the amount of money earned, and your spouse’s or parent’s work may count. Learn more about work credits and how they are earned here: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10072.pdf.
  • You are a veteran or active-duty member of the United States Armed Forces, or a spouse or dependent of a veteran or active-duty member of the United States Armed Forces
  • You are an American Indian born in Canada
  • You are a non-citizen member of a federally recognized Indian tribe
  • You are a victim of human trafficking

Criteria for Children

Children who are blind or disabled may qualify for SSI benefits. The SSA defines “child” as being unmarried and:

  • Younger than 18 years of age, OR
  • Younger than 22 years of age and regularly attending school.

Children can begin receiving SSI benefits at birth. When they reach 18 years of age, their disability status will be verified by the SSA to determine if it meets the disability or blindness definition for adults. 

Disability Requirements for Children

A child meets the SSA’s definition of disabled if he or she has:

  • a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that results in functional limitations, and
  • the condition must have lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months, or 
  • can be expected to result in death.

A child meets the SSA’s definition of blind when he or she has:

  • Central visual acuity for a distance of 20/200 or less in their better eye with the use of a corrective lens, OR
  • A visual field limitation in their better eye so that the widest diameter of the visual field forms an angle no greater than 20 degrees. 

How the SSA Deems Income for Child Applicants

The process of “deeming” means counting the income and resources of another person as the applicant’s own. The SSA deducts deemed income and uses the remaining amount to decide if the child meets all eligibility requirements for SSI benefits.

Unmarried children younger than 18 who are living with parents who do not receive SSI benefits may have a portion of their parents’ income and resources counted as their own. The SSA may also count a portion of a stepparent’s income and resources if the child lives with both a parent and a stepparent (or an adoptive parent and a stepparent).  

The SSA also deems income and resources when the child is temporarily away at school, returns home during weekends, holidays or during the summer, and remains subject to parental control.

For more information on what the SSA does and does not count as income, as well as the income limit, refer to the section “Income Requirements”. 

Additional SSI Benefits for Children With Disabilities

Children who qualify for SSI can receive referrals for health care services through the Children with Special Health Care Needs act. These referrals are issued by state health agencies. Most services are rendered at private clinics, outpatient hospital offices, doctor offices, community agencies and inpatient clinics.

In most states, children who qualify for SSI are eligible for and are automatically enrolled into Medicaid, a federal health care program. These states are:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

In other states, you are eligible for Medicaid if you qualify for SSI but need to apply for Medicaid using a separate application. These states are:

  • Alaska
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Utah

The following states have more restrictive eligibility criteria for Medicaid than for SSI and require you to apply to Medicaid using a separate application to see if you qualify:

  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Virginia

Supplemental Benefits for Children Receiving SSI in Some States

Children living in certain states who receive SSI benefits are eligible to receive a supplemental payment in addition to their regular benefit payments. Supplemental payments increase the total amount of money that a beneficiary can receive. These supplemental payments are issued by either:

  • The Social Security Administration (SSA), OR
  • The state itself.

The party that issues the supplemental payments is responsible for determining the eligibility criteria. To determine how much you will receive through supplemental payments, you must contact the party that is responsible for payment in your state. 

When a state or the SSA issues supplemental payments, it chooses how the child’s income and resources are considered (otherwise known as deemed). For more information, refer to “How the SSA Deems Income for Child Applicants” section of this guide.

Children who live in the following states are eligible to receive a supplemental payment from their state:

  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
    • Supplemental payments are only available to blind children.
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
    • Supplemental payments are only available to blind children.
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
    • Supplemental payments are only available to blind children.
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Children who live in the following states are eligible to receive a supplemental payment from the SSA:

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
    • Supplemental payments are only available to children receiving in-home related care or who reside in residential care facilities.
  • Montana
    • Supplemental payments are only available to blind or disabled children living in certified foster homes.
  • Nevada
    • Supplemental payments are only available to blind children.
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont

Children who live in the following states are not eligible to receive a supplemental payment:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Ohio
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee 
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

Some states administer supplemental payments for adult recipients, but not for children. See the “State Supplemental Benefits” section of this guide for more information about supplemental payments for adults.

SSI Benefit Payments

Once you are approved for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, you will begin receiving SSI benefit payments. The total amount of your benefit payment depends on your income, resources, living arrangements and other factors. However, there is a maximum SSI benefit amount determined by the SSA each year.

Depending on where you live, you may also qualify for a supplemental payment in addition to your federal SSI benefit amount. Continue reading the sections below to learn more about benefit payments. 

senior man computer calculator and papers ssi benefit payments

How are SSI benefit amounts determined?

The SSA and the state in which you live are responsible for determining your SSI benefit payment. There are certain factors that affect your SSI benefit amount:

  1. Income
    In general, the more countable income you have, the less your SSI benefit payment will be. To learn more about the type of income that is counted, refer to the “Income Requirements” section.
  2. Living Arrangements
    Your SSI benefit amount will be reduced if you are not responsible for paying your own food or shelter costs. Learn more about how living arrangements affect benefit amounts in the “Living Arrangements and Residency Requirements” section.

What is the maximum federal SSI benefit amount?

The federal government limits the total amount of money you can receive with SSI benefits. The maximum changes often to reflect differences in the cost of living. 

The current maximum federal SSI monthly benefit amount for 2022 is $841 for an individual, $1,261 for a couple and $421 for an essential person. 

State Supplemental Benefits

Some states pay supplemental benefits to adult SSI recipients. If you live in a state that provides supplemental payments, it is possible to receive a total SSI benefit payment that exceeds the federal maximum. 

Supplemental payments are issued by either:

  • The Social Security Administration (SSA), OR
  • The state itself.

The party that issues the supplemental payments is responsible for determining the total amount of the benefit. To determine how much you will receive through supplemental payments, you must contact either the SSA or your state, depending on where you live. 

If you live in one of the following states, you may be eligible for adult supplemental benefits issued by the SSA:

  • California
  • Delaware*
  • District of Columbia*
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa*
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania*
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont

The table below provides information about states that administer supplemental state payments in addition to federal benefits. Please note that states may have additional requirements to receive these supplemental payments, so not everyone may qualify. The table also includes information about the department that issues payments as well as a link for more information:

StateDepartmentOnline Resources
AlabamaAlabama Medicaidhttps://medicaid.alabama.gov/content/3.0_Apply/3.2_Qualifying/3.2.5_Medicaid_EandD/3.2.5.1_SSI-Related.aspx
AlaskaDivision of Public Assistancehttps://ak.db101.org/ak/programs/income_support/ssi/program.htm
ColoradoDepartment of Human Serviceshttps://cdhs.colorado.gov/benefits-assistance/cash-assistance/adult-financial-programs#:~:text=The%20Aid%20to%20the%20Needy,receiving%20the%20full%20SSI%20benefit
ConnecticutDepartment of Social Serviceshttps://uwc.211ct.org/state-supplement-for-the-aged-blind-and-disabled/
FloridaDepartment of Children and Familieshttps://www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/access/docs/ssifactsheet.pdf
GeorgiaDepartment of Public Healthhttps://dph.georgia.gov/sites/dph.georgia.gov/files/CMS%20P2P%20Social%20Security%20sheet%20Revised%209.18.13.pdf
Idaho**
IllinoisDepartment of Human Serviceshttps://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=30370
IndianaFamily & Social Services Administrationhttps://www.in.gov/medicaid/members/member-programs/hoosier-care-connect/
Kansas**
KentuckyCabinet for Health and Family Serviceshttps://chfs.ky.gov/agencies/dis/Pages/ddds.aspx
LouisianaDisability Determination Serviceshttp://www.dss.state.la.us/page/58
MaineDepartment of Health & Human Serviceshttps://www.mainehealth.org/-/media/Maine-Medical-Center/Files/Vocational-Services/Fact-Sheets/SSI-and-MaineCare-Coverage.pdf
MarylandDivision of Rehabilitation Serviceshttps://dors.maryland.gov/consumers/benefits/Pages/SSI_SSDI.aspx
MassachusettsDepartment of Transitional Assistancehttps://www.mass.gov/massachusetts-state-supplement-program-ssp#:~:text=SSI%20provides%20monthly%20payments%20to,partial%20benefit%20from%20the%20state
MinnesotaDepartment of Human Serviceshttps://www.dhs.state.mn.us/main/idcplg?IdcService=GET_DYNAMIC_CONVERSION&dDocName=cm_00290603&RevisionSelectionMethod=LatestReleased
MississippiDepartment of Rehabilitation Serviceshttps://www.mdrs.ms.gov/Disability/Pages/default.aspx
MissouriDepartment of Social Services, Family Support Divisionhttps://mydss.mo.gov/services
NebraskaDepartment of Health and Human Serviceshttps://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Aged-Blind-or-Disabled.aspx
New HampshireDepartment of Health and Human Serviceshttps://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dfa/documents/supplemental.pdf
New MexicoDepartment of Human Serviceshttps://www.hsd.state.nm.us/lookingforassistance/income_support/
New YorkOffice of Temporary and Disability Assistancehttps://otda.ny.gov/programs/ssp/
North Carolin**
OhioDepartment of Mental Health and Addiction Serviceshttps://mha.ohio.gov/get-help/recovery-supports/residential-state-supplement
OklahomaOklahoma Human Serviceshttps://oklahoma.gov/okdhs/library/policy/current/oac-340/chapter-15/subchapter-1/state-supplemental-payment-plan-ssp.html
OregonDepartment of Human Serviceshttps://www.oregon.gov/dhs/EMPLOYMENT/VR/WIN/SiteAssets/Pages/Resources/SSI%20Living%20Wage%20Transition%202021.pdf
South CarolinaDepartment of Health and Human Serviceshttps://www.scdhhs.gov/eligibility-groups/optional-state-supplementation-program-oss
South Dakota**
Tennessee**
TexasDepartment of Health and Human Serviceshttps://www.hhs.texas.gov/handbooks/medicaid-elderly-people-disabilities-handbook/h-6000-co-payment-ssi-cases
UtahDisability Benefits and Employmenthttps://jobs.utah.gov/usor/vr/services/usorssi.pdf
VirginiaWorkforce Connectionhttps://www.vawc.virginia.gov/vosnet/gsipub/documentView.aspx?enc=tT7iOjImTpYRkx6m/bcWHw==
WashingtonDevelopmental Disabilities Administrationhttps://www.dshs.wa.gov/dda/consumers-and-families/state-supplementary-payment-program#:~:text=In%20Washington%20State%2C%20the%20state,the%20receipt%20of%20these%20benefits
Washington D.C.Department of Health Care Financehttps://dhcf.dc.gov/service/supplemental-security-income-ssi-program
WisconsinDepartment of Health Serviceshttps://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/ssi/index.htm
WyomingDepartment of Workforce Serviceshttp://wyomingworkforce.org/workers/vr/dds/

If you live in one of the following states, you cannot receive supplemental benefits:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Mississippi
  • North Dakota
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • West Virginia

Benefit Payment Schedule

SSI benefits are paid to each recipient on the first of the month. If the first falls on a Saturday, Sunday or a federal holiday, benefits are paid on the business day before then. 

However, recipients who are receiving both SSI and Social Security benefits will receive both payments on the third of each month. 

Expedited SSI Payments

In most cases, you must wait until your SSI application is approved before you can receive benefit payments. Then, you will receive your payments on the first of each month. However, the SSA has four special circumstances that may allow for an expedited payment process. 

Presumptive Disability (PD) or Presumptive Blindness (PB) Payments

If you applied for SSI based on disability or blindness, you may be eligible to receive presumptive disability (PD) or presumptive blindness (PB) payments for up to six months while you are waiting for your disability or blindness to be verified by the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office. 

To be eligible for these payments, you must have evidence of your condition that is readily available. The condition must also be severe and have a high likelihood of getting approved. If you are approved for PD or PB payments but are later denied SSI, you are not required to repay the SSA. 

You may be eligible for PD or PB payments if you have one of the following conditions:

  • Amputation of a leg at the hip
  • Total deafness
  • Total blindness 
  • ALS (otherwise known as Lou Gherig’s Disease)
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Immobility or bed confinement without a wheelchair, walker, or crutches due to a longstanding condition (excluding any recent accident or surgery)
  • Stroke (no more recent than three months prior) that has led to continued difficulty in walking or using a hand or arm
  • Cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy or muscular atrophy and difficulty walking, speaking or using the hands or arms
  • Down syndrome
  • Intellectual disability or another neurodevelopmental impairment with complete inability to independently perform basic self-care activities (for claimants at least 4 years of age)
  • Children younger than 1 year of age with birth weight below 2 pounds, 10 ounces
  • Children younger than 1 year of age with medical evidence showing a gestational age (GA) at birth with these corresponding birth weights:
    • GA 37-40 weeks: weight at birth 4 pounds, 6 ounces or less
    • GA 36 weeks: weight at birth 4 pounds, 2 ounces or less
    • GA 35 weeks: weight at birth 3 pounds, 12 ounces or less
    • GA 34 weeks: weight at birth 3 pounds, 5 ounces or less
    • GA 33 weeks: weight at birth between 2 pounds, 10 ounces and 2 pounds, 15 ounces
    • GA 32 weeks: weight at birth at least 2 pounds, 10 ounces but less than 2 pounds, 15 ounces
  • Terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less
    • Must be confirmed by a physician
  • Receiving hospice services
    • Must be confirmed by a hospice official
  • Spinal cord injury that prevents walking or moving without a medical device for more than two weeks
    • Must be confirmed by a physician
  • End-stage renal disease (ESRD) requiring chronic dialysis 

Emergency Advance Payments

If you applied for SSI for the first time and are facing a financial emergency while you wait for benefits to start or for your next payment date, you may be eligible for emergency advance payments. This means the SSA will pay you the monthly benefit in advance. You are only allowed one emergency advance payment.  

The maximum emergency advance payment you may receive is the lesser of:

  • The SSI maximum federal benefit (plus any federally administered supplement);
  • The total amount of the benefits you have been determined to receive, OR
  • The amount requested for the financial emergency.

To receive an emergency advance payment, you must be eligible for SSI benefits that are delayed or that you have not yet received. You must also be facing a financial emergency, which is defined as a threat to your health or safety due to a lack of payment toward food, shelter, clothing or medical care.

Immediate Payments

You can receive an immediate payment of up to $999 if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • Have just applied to the SSI program or are already receiving benefits
  • Are due SSI benefits that are delayed or have not been received
  • Are facing a financial emergency that threatens your safety due to a lack of payment toward food, shelter, clothing or medical care

Expedited Reinstatement Payments

If you were previously receiving SSI benefits that ended when you started earning money from work, you can request your benefits be reinstated without having to complete the entire application process over again. To qualify for expedited reinstatement, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Your benefits ended due to earnings received through work
  • You were unable to maintain substantial earnings through work due to the impairment (or condition related to the impairment) that qualified you for SSI benefits before
  • You are requesting the expedited reinstatement within five years from the month your benefits ended

You can receive provisional (temporary) benefits for up to six months while you wait for a decision regarding your reinstatement of benefits. The total amount of provisional benefits includes federal benefits and Medicaid coverage. If you receive provisional benefits but are later denied reinstatement, you will not be required to repay the SSA.

Understanding Windfall and How It Affects SSI

If you are eligible for retroactive (past due) Social Security benefits and SSI benefits for the same month, you are not allowed to receive the maximum amount of both benefits. This is known as windfall offset

Your Social Security benefits will be reduced by the amount of SSI benefits you would not have received if the SSA paid you benefits when they were due. 

The windfall offset period begins in the month that you become eligible for both retroactive Social Security and SSI benefits. The offset period ends when the SSA begins paying you monthly Social Security benefits.

How to Apply for SSI

senior woman filling out form apply for ssi

Anyone interested in receiving SSI benefits from the Social Security Administration must first complete the application process. Depending on who you are, you may be eligible to apply in the following ways:

  • Online
  • Over the phone
  • In person

When to Submit an Application

You should apply for SSI benefits as soon as you believe you are eligible. If you wait to apply, you could miss out on several months of payments for which you would have received if you applied earlier. The SSA will only start making benefit payments for the month after you apply or the month after you meet all eligibility criteria, whichever is sooner.

Documents and Information Required to Apply for SSI

To apply for SSI, you will need to provide proof of the following information:

Proof of Age

  • Birth certificate, birth record issued before age 5 or other proof of birth
  • Social Security Number or card

Proof of U.S. Citizenship 

  • Birth certificate
  • Certificate of citizenship
  • Naturalization certificate
  • U.S. passport or passport card
  • Proof of lawful alien status if you were not born in the United States
    • I-551 (Permanent Resident Card) or I–94 (Arrival/Departure Record)
    • Form DD 214 if you are a lawful alien who served in the U.S. Armed Forces

Proof of Earned Income

  • W-2 forms
  • Self-employment tax returns

Proof of Unearned Income

  • Bank statements
  • Court orders
  • Award letters
  • Other receipt of payment

Proof of Resources

  • Bank statements for all checking and savings accounts
  • Life or disability insurance policies
  • Deed or tax appraisal assessment for property (excluding the home in which you live)
  • Burial plots, contracts or other matters relating to burials
  • Stocks, bonds and certificates of deposits
  • Titles and registrations for owned vehicles, boats, campers or motorcycles 

Proof of Living Arrangements

  • Lease or rent receipt
  • Deed or property tax bill
  • Names, dates of births, medical assistance cards or Social Security Numbers for all household members
  • Documented proof of household costs for food, rent, mortgage and utilities

Proof of Medical Condition (if applying on the basis of blindness or disability)

  • Medical reports
  • Names of prescription and non-prescription drugs you take
  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of doctors and health care professionals that provided your medical care
    • You will need to provide the approximate dates you were treated.

Work History

  • Occupation industry
  • Job titles
  • Names of employers
  • Dates worked
  • Average hours worked per day and per week
  • Description of job duties, average hours and rates of pay for work you completed for the prior 15 years before becoming disabled

How to Apply Online

You can apply for SSI benefits online only if you meet all of the following eligibility requirements:

  • You are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) at the same time as you are applying for SSI
  • You are between the ages of 18 and 65
  • You have never been married
  • You are a U.S. citizen
  • You are not applying on behalf of a child with a disability
  • You have not applied for or received SSI in the past

If you meet all of the above requirements, follow the steps outlined below to apply for SSI benefits online.

  1. Visit the Disability Benefit Application portal here: https://secure.ssa.gov/iClaim/dib.
    You must sign into your mySocialSecurity account to apply online. If you do not have an account, create one for free here:
    https://secure.ssa.gov/RIL/SiView.action.
  2. Gather all required documents and information.
    For more information, refer to the “Documents and Information Required to Apply for SSI” section.
  3. Enter all required information as prompted.
    The online application process can take between one and two hours to complete, on average. You can save your progress and continue the application at a later time.
  4. Receive confirmation from the SSA.
    You will receive either an email or mail confirmation of your application submission.

How to Apply by Phone

To apply for SSI by phone, you’ll need to make an appointment to file an application by phone. You can schedule a telephone appointment online using the Appointment Request web page here https://secure.ssa.gov/ben16/prtflui/ssiprtfl

Otherwise, you may call the SSA at 1 (800) 772-1213 between the hours of 8 AM and 7 PM Monday through Friday to schedule an appointment.  

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call the SSA at TTY 1 (800) 325-0778.

Your Application Rights

You have several rights as an SSI applicant. 

  • You have the right to apply to the program regardless of who you are. There is no charge to apply for SSI benefits. 
  • If you cannot complete the application on your own, you have the right to request that the SSA complete the forms for you based on information you provide. The SSA will also assist you in gathering all necessary documents and information. If the SSA needs more information to verify a medical condition, it will pay for you to complete necessary medical exams as well as schedule the appointment on your behalf. 
  • You have the right to receive a notice of eligibility regarding your status for SSI benefits. The SSA will send you a written letter explaining whether you qualify for benefits or do not meet the eligibility criteria. 
  • You have the right to examine all information in your file.
  • If you disagree with a decision made by the SSA, you have the right to appeal. You can appeal decisions regarding your eligibility for the program as well as changes made to your benefit amount. Learn more about the appeals process in the “SSI Denials and Appeals” section. 

Appointing a Representative to Assist With Your Application 

You have the right to select an appointed representative, which is an individual of your choosing who has the authority to help you with your SSI application. Appointed representatives also have the authority to:

  • Complete forms on your behalf.
  • Request information from the SSA on your behalf.
  • Provide evidence for you.
  • Attend appointments with you.
  • Collect and submit information for your application.
  • Interpret information.
  • Receive your mail at their home address.
  • Represent you at hearings.

To appoint someone as your representative, you must name them by completing the Claimant’s Appointment of a Representative Form 1696 (https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-1696.pdf). 

The individual you appoint does not have to be a lawyer, but he or she will need to provide information about his or her character, credentials or skills. If you do elect an attorney as your representative, he or she must be licensed. 

How to Check the Status of Your SSI Application

woman computer check status ssi application

Once you submit your SSI application, you can check its status using your mySocialSecurity online account. Follow the steps below to learn how to check your application status.

  1. Sign into your mySocialSecurity account.
    Sign in here: https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/.
  2. Scroll down to the “Your Benefit Applications” section.
  3. Click “View Details” listed under the “More Info” heading.
  4. Navigate to the “Current Status” section to see your application status.

If you are unable to check the status of your application online, call the SSA at 1 (800) 772-1213 between the hours of 8 AM and 7 PM Monday through Friday. 

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call the SSA at TTY 1 (800) 325-0778.

Or, contact your local Social Security office. Use the office locator tool within the table in the section “SSI Program Contact Information”.

When will I receive an SSI determination letter?

If you apply for SSI on the basis of disability or blindness, the process generally takes between three and four months. 

If you apply solely on the basis of age, the process is generally quicker because there is no medical verification process. 

SSI Denials and Appeals

seniors with form SSI Denials and Appeals

If you are denied SSI benefits and believe the denial is a mistake, you have the right to appeal the decision. The appeals process varies based on why your SSI application was denied. Continue reading the sections below to learn about the most common reasons for benefits denials and how to initiate the appeal process.

Common Reasons for SSI Benefit Denials

Your SSI application can be denied due to medical or non-medical reasons. If you applied on the basis of having a disability or being blind, your condition must meet the SSA’s definitions of disabled or blind (found in the “Defining ‘Aged,’ ‘Blind’ and ‘Disabled’” section). If the SSA decides it does not, you will be issued a medical denial.

Non-medical denials occur when your condition meets the SSA’s definition, but other factors disqualify you from SSI benefits. You must meet the income, resource and living arrangement requirements in order to be eligible for benefits. See the “Eligibility Requirements for SSI” to learn more. 

The SSI Appeals Process

If your SSI benefits are denied, you have 60 days from the date you receive the notice of denial to file an appeal. There are four levels of appeals:

  1. Reconsideration
  2. Hearing
  3. Appeals Council Review
  4. Federal Court Lawsuit

You must start the appeals process with a reconsideration; if you still disagree with the outcome, you can request higher levels of appeals in the order listed above. You can initiate the appeals process online using the Medical Appeal or Non-Medical Appeal online portal, or you can initiate the process in writing by mail. Follow the steps below to request an appeal. These steps apply to all levels of appeals.

Filing a Reconsideration Online 

You can request a reconsideration online if you were denied SSI benefits due to a medical or non-medical reason. You are allowed to elect a representative to help you with your appeal or complete the appeal on your behalf. 

You will need to provide the following information during the appeal:

  • Full name
  • Social Security Number 
  • Address and phone number
  • Date of birth

If you were denied for medical reasons, you will need to provide the following:

  • Name of legal representative (if you are using one)
  • Name, address, and phone number of a friend or relative who knows about your medical condition
  • Details about any changes to your medical condition
  • Details about any new medical conditions (if applicable)
  • Name, address, phone number and dates of office visits for all health care providers, treatments and tests since your initial application
  • Name of any medicine you are taking, the reason for taking it, side effects and the name of the doctor who prescribed it
  • Details about any changes in your daily activities, work and education (if applicable)
  • Documents that support your medical condition or changes you have included

Once you gather all the required information and documents, follow the steps outlined below to file an appeal online. 

  1. Visit the applicable online
    1. Access the Medical Denial Appeal online portal here: https://secure.ssa.gov/iApplsRe/start
    2. Access the Non-Medical Denial Appeal online portal here: https://secure.ssa.gov/iApplNMD/start
  2. Click “Start a New Appeal.”
    The Medical Denial Appeal process will take between 40 and 60 minutes. The Non-Medical Denial Appeal process will take between 10 and 15 minutes. You can only save your progress and return to it at a later time if you are pursuing a Medical Denial Appeal.
  3. Agree to the Electronic Appeals Terms of Service.
  4. Enter all required information as prompted.
    There are sections in the online portal that allow you to upload supporting documents.

Filing a Reconsideration in Writing 

You can request an appeal in writing using the application form or by writing a letter to the SSA explaining your disagreement. If you choose to write a letter, you must include your Social Security Number. 

If you wish to use the application, download and complete the Request for Reconsideration – Form 561 here: https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-561.pdf. When the form is complete, mail or bring it to your local SSA field office. Find your nearest office using the SSA Office Locator tool here: https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp.

Advancing to the Next Appeal Level

You need to begin your appeal process by requesting a reconsideration. Upon following the steps in the section above to request the reconsideration, the SSA will take a second look at your SSI application. An individual who was not part of your application will be responsible for the reconsideration. He or she will consider the information provided in the initial application, as well as any new evidence submitted during the appeal. 

When the reconsideration is complete, you will receive a letter from the SSA notifying you of the outcome. If you still disagree with the decision, you may advance to the next level of appeals: a hearing.

What is a hearing?

A hearing is the second step in the appeal process. You may request a hearing by downloading and completing the Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge – Form HA-501 here: https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ha-501.pdf. When the form is complete, mail or bring it to your local SSA field office.

The hearing will be conducted by an administrative law judge who did not participate in your application determination or in your reconsideration. Hearings are typically held within 75 miles of your home, though a virtual hearing may be conducted if necessary. The administrative law judge will notify you of the location or type of hearing. 

The hearing is your chance to provide evidence or witness statements that prove you qualify for SSI benefits. You are allowed to bring witnesses to the hearing, such as doctors or medical experts. You may be asked to submit certain pieces of evidence to help clarify discrepancies in your application.

You may not be required to attend the hearing. If you do not wish to or cannot attend, notify the hearing office before the hearing is scheduled to take place. You will be advised whether your presence is necessary. You can find contact information for all SSA hearing offices on the Office of Hearing Operations (OHO) website here: https://www.ssa.gov/appeals/ho_locator.html

After the hearing, you will receive a letter and a copy of the judge’s decision. If you still disagree, you can request the next level of appeal: an Appeals Council review. 

What is an Appeals Council review?

You can request an appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council, which reviews all previous appeal requests and determines if your case has been mistakenly denied. You must download and complete a Request for Review of Hearing Decision/Order – Form HA-520 here: https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ha-520.pdf

When the form is complete, mail or fax it to:

Appeals Council
SSA/OARO
5107 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA 22041-3255

Fax: 1 (833) 509-0817

If the Council believes the result of the hearing was correct, it will deny the request for review. However, if the Council decides to review your case, it will make a decision itself or issue an order returning your case to a different administrative law judge for further action.

If the Appeals Council decides that the decision made in the hearing was correct and does not review your case, you will receive a letter with details about the denial. If the Appeals Council reviews your case and makes a decision, you will receive a copy of the decision. If the Appeals Council sends your case back down to an administrative law judge, you will receive a letter explaining why. 

If you disagree with any action by the Appeals Council, you can request the highest level of appeal: a federal court lawsuit.

What is a federal court lawsuit?

If you have advanced through all three levels of appeal and still believe the SSA incorrectly denied you SSI benefits, you may file a lawsuit in a federal district court within 60 days of receiving a letter from the Appeals Council. The letter you receive about the decision made by the Appeals Council will outline the next steps to filing a lawsuit. 

To proceed with a civil lawsuit, you’ll need to file it in the district court of the United States for the judicial district in which you live. If your location is not served by a judicial district, you can file in the district court for the district that serves Washington D.C.

Generally, you will be required to send the SSA copies of the complaint you filed along with documents of the summons issued by the court. They will only be accepted if you send them via certified or registered mail. All documents should be sent to the Office of the General Counsel that handles the area where the complaint is filed. You can find a chart containing the mailing addresses for all OGC offices in each district here: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/links/0203106020

How to Continue Receiving SSI Benefits During an Appeal

You must follow certain guidelines in order to continue receiving SSI benefits during your appeal. Although you have 60 days to file an appeal, you must do so within 10 days of receiving the initial notice of denial from the SSA in order to continue receiving SSI benefits. Payment will continue until the SSA reaches a reconsideration determination as long as you continue to meet all other SSI eligibility requirements. This process also applies to you if you receive a notice that your benefits will end. 

If you have not yet received SSI benefits because you are appealing an application denial, this process does not apply to you. 

How to Check the Status of Your Appeal

Whether you file an appeal online, by mail or with an SSA employee via phone or in person, you may check the status of your appeal online. You must log into your mySocialSecurity account here: https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/

Disability Reviews and Redeterminations

doctor form patient disability reviews ssi

If you apply and are approved for SSI due to a disability or blindness, you will periodically undergo Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs). You will also be required to undergo  redeterminations to verify that you continue to meet other eligibility criteria. If your medical condition(s) no longer meet the SSA’s definitions or your income, resources or living arrangements change, your benefits may stop. Continue reading the sections below to learn more about CDRs and redeterminations. 

Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs)

A CDR is a review of your medical condition to determine if it still meets the SSA’s definitions of disabled or blind. You will undergo a CDR at least once every three years, unless your condition is expected to improve sooner. If your condition is not expected to improve, you will undergo a CDR every five to seven years. 

CDRs for Children

Children with disabilities must also undergo a CDR at least once every three years, even if the condition is not expected to improve. Children who are approved for SSI benefits based on a disability due to low birth weight will generally undergo a CDR by age 1. If the child’s condition is not expected to improve, the CDR may be scheduled after the child’s first birthday.

Children who are currently receiving SSI benefits due to a disability and are about to reach 18 years of age will undergo a CDR to determine if their condition meets the requirements for SSI benefits as an adult. This usually takes place in the two months prior to their 18th birthday. 

CDR Exemptions

You are exempt from the CDR requirement when you are participating in the Ticket to Work program (learn more about this program in the “Ticket to Work” section). When you participate in this program, your income and work level will change, so you will not need to have a medical review done each time. 

To qualify for a CDR exemption while you participate in the Ticket to Work program, you must be actively using a ticket. This is known as “in use.” You must have a ticket status that contains “in use” to remain exempt from medical reviews. If your ticket status is listed as any of the following, you are subject to a medical review:

  • Eligible
  • Mailed
  • Assigned – Not in Use
  • Not in Use
  • Not Assigned – Not in Use
  • Terminated

Redeterminations

At the same time the SSA conducts your periodic CDR, you will undergo a redetermination to verify that your income, resources and living arrangements have not changed. If they have changed, the SSA will determine whether you still qualify for SSI benefits according to the requirements for income, resources and living arrangements. Learn more about eligibility requirements

Reviews Resulting in the Termination of Benefits

After a review (CDR or redetermination), the SSA determines if you remain eligible for SSI or if you no longer meet the requirements of the program. There are a few causes that can lead to a termination of SSI benefits: 

  • Your work is considered “substantial.”
    • Average monthly wages of $1,350 or more per month ($2,260 or more if you are blind) are considered substantial.
  • Your medical condition has improved to the point that you are no longer disabled.
  • Your resources exceed the limit.
    • Your resources cannot be worth more than $2,000 (or more than $3,000 if you are married). 

How to Prepare for a CDR

Before you undergo a CDR, you will receive a letter from the SSA notifying you about the impending review. Then, your local Social Security office will contact you regarding the specifics of the review. The representative will ask you for information about your medical treatments and any work that you may have done since you started receiving SSI benefits due to your disability.

To prepare for your CDR, it may be helpful to gather any medical documents or reports from your health care professionals. Doing this beforehand can prevent delays in the process.

How to Appeal a CDR Decision

If you disagree with a decision made by the SSA after your review, you have the right to appeal. To learn about the appeals process, refer to the “SSI Denials and Appeals” section of this guide. 

SSI Reporting Requirements

senior man computer cellphone ssi reporting requirements

In order to maintain eligibility for the SSI program, you are required to report changes in your situation to the SSA immediately. There are many types of changes that you must report. Continue reading the sections below to learn the reporting requirements for the SSI program.

Changes That Must Be Reported

Eligibility for the SSI program is based on several factors, including your income, living arrangements, disability status, citizenship status and value of resources. Whenever these factors change, your eligibility could be affected. 

You must report the following types of changes to the SSA as soon as you become aware of them:

  • Change of address
  • Change of income
    • You must report changes to both earned and unearned income, including the income of your spouse if you are married. See the “Income Requirements” section of this guide for more information about income.
  • Change in living arrangements
  • Change in resources
  • Change in marital status
  • Death of a household member
  • Change in citizenship, immigration or legal status 
  • Change in financial responsibilities
    • You must report to the SSA when you begin receiving financial help from family members or friends if paying for your food, shelter or utility costs.
  • Admission to or discharge from an institution or facility
  • Changes in eligibility for other benefits or payments
  • Change in school attendance
    • This only applies to beneficiaries younger than 22 years of age.
  • Leaving the U.S. for a full month or at least 30 consecutive days
  • Any felony or arrest warrants for escape from custody or flight to avoid prosecution 

If you receive SSI on the basis of disability, you must also report the following types of changes:

  • Improvement in your medical condition
  • Starting or stopping work
  • Changes to your hours or rate of pay
  • Change in your Ticket to Work status
    • Learn more about this program in the Ticket to Work section of this guide. 
  • Changes in work or Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) expenses
    • Learn more about the plan in the PASS section of this guide.

When to Report Changes

You must report changes to the SSA immediately after they occur. You should wait no later than 10 days after the end of the month in which the change(s) occurred. 

How to Report Changes

To report changes to the SSA, use one of the following methods.

Report Online

You can use your mySocialSecurity online account to report changes. Log into your account here: www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount

When you are finished reporting, you will receive a receipt to confirm the changes.

Report by Phone

Call the SSA toll-free at 1 (800) 772-1213 or 1 (800) 325-0778 (TTY). Representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 7 PM.

Report in Person

Find your local SSA field office using the office locator tool provided in the “SSA Program Contact Information” section.

Penalties for Not Reporting Changes to the SSA

Failing to report the required changes in a timely manner can result in underpayment or a delay in your benefit payments, causing you to miss out on payment due to you. It could also result in the SSA overpaying you, in which case you would be required to pay back the overpayment to the SSA. 

The SSA reduces your monthly benefit amount by $25 to $100 for each time you fail to report required changes. If you report later than 10 days after the end of the month in which the change occurred, you are also subject to this reduction in benefits. 

If you purposely make a false claim or statement or withhold information about changes, the SSA imposes a sanction against your SSI benefits. 

The first sanction period is a withholding of payments for six months. Subsequent sanction periods are for 12 months and then 24 months.

SSI Work Incentives

woman form computer ssi work incentives

The SSI program provides work incentives that help recipients reach their career goals without penalizing them for earning wages. Learn more about the types of work incentives available from the SSA in the sections below. 

Ticket to Work Program

The Ticket to Work program provides free employment services to SSI recipients. If you are unsure whether working is right for you, this program can help you decide. The Ticket to Work Program helps you prepare for work, find a job or maintain meaningful employment. If you participate, you are eligible to receive the following work-related services:

  • Career counseling
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Job placement
  • Career training

You can access the Ticket to Work program website here for more information: https://www.ssa.gov/work/.

When you participate in the Ticket to Work program, you can assign your employment “ticket” to an approved Employment Network (EN) of your choice. The EN is the party responsible for providing the services listed above. In return for receiving career services, you are expected to meet specific employment goals outlined by the EN. These goals are designed to help you find and maintain employment so that you reduce your dependence on disability benefits. 

Eligibility to Participate 

To participate in the Ticket to Work program, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be between the ages of 18 and 64
  • Receive SSI or SSDI benefits

Your eligibility for the program is verified by the Employment Network you choose to utilize. 

You do not need to have a paper Ticket to begin. Simply call the Ticket to Work program at 1 (866) 968-7842 (1-866-833-2967 TTY) to verify your eligibility to participate.

How to Sign Up

To get started in the Ticket to Work Program, call the main hotline at 1 (866) 968-7842 (1-866-833-2967 TTY) to verify your eligibility. 

A customer service representative will discuss the program and answer any questions you may have. You can request that a list of providers in your area be mailed to you, or elect to search for providers on your own. Continue reading the section below to learn how to find Ticket to Work providers.

How to Find Ticket to Work Providers

After verifying your eligibility by calling the Ticket to Work hotline, the next step is choosing a provider to work with. You have several options when choosing a provider, each of which provides different services and benefits. 

Employment Networks (EN)

Employment Networks, or ENs, are public or private organizations that work with Social Security to provide free employment support services to disabled workers. Some ENs work with only the local community, while others partner with state agencies to expand outreach. 

Workforce Agencies (WA)

Workforce Agencies are ENs that also partner with the state and are part of the state’s public workforce system. These agencies can be operated at the state level by a workforce agency or Workforce Investment Board (WIB) or at the local level by an American Job Center or a local WIB.

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Agencies

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies are operated at the state level and offer the widest array of services. Aside from employment-specific services, VR agencies focus on rehabilitation to help you transition to independence.

The table below outlines the different provider categories available to you and corresponding services.

Employment Networks (EN)Workforce Agencies (WA)State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Agencies
Work Incentives CounselingYYY
Career Planning YYY
Job Search/ PlacementYYY
Continuing Employment SupportYYY
Training ProgramsNYY
Assistance With Accommodations YYY
Special Veteran and Youth ProgramsNYY
Tuition Support for College CourseworkNNY
Rehabilitation ServicesNNY

If you are still unsure of the type of provider that can benefit you, the SSA has a guided search option tool that allows you to answer several questions and get matched with the right type of provider. Access the tool here: http://app.keysurvey.com/f/1142311/133f/.

Once you have decided the type of provider you wish to work with, you need to find one in your area. You can use the SSA’s direct search tool to find providers in your area. Access the direct search tool here: https://choosework.ssa.gov/findhelp/result?p_sort=alphabetical&option=2&resStr=en,wf&p_pagesize=25&p_pagenum=1.

Assigning a Ticket

When you find a provider, you must assign your Ticket to that provider so you can receive free employment services. The provider is responsible for assigning it and notifying the SSA. To assign your Ticket, contact your desired provider and notify them that you would like to utilize their services. Providers will first check to make sure your Ticket has not already been assigned to another provider. If you need to unassign your Ticket, continue reading the section below.

Unassigning a Ticket

If you have previously assigned your Ticket and wish to change providers, you may do so at any time using the Ticket Unassignment Form here: https://choosework.ssa.gov/Assets/cw/docs-materials/Ticket-Unassignment-Form.pdf.

Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)

If you receive SSI benefits based on a disability or blindness, you are eligible to set aside money in a Plan to Achieve Self-Support, or PASS. Having a PASS allows you to use part of your income or resources to find sustainable work and obtain necessary skills, services or items to achieve your career goals.

The money you set aside under a PASS does not count toward your income for SSI eligibility purposes. Similarly, resources that you use under a PASS do not count toward the SSI resource limit. Money and resources you set aside in a PASS can help pay work expenses, such as:

  • Transportation to and from work
  • Childcare
  • Tuition, fees, supplies and books
  • Job coaching
  • Resume writing
  • Necessary supplies to start a business
  • Assistive technology
  • Equipment and tools
  • Uniforms 
  • Safety equipment

Eligibility to Participate

To participate in PASS, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Plan to work
  • Receive SSI benefits due to a disability or blindness
    • If you do not currently receive benefits, you can still qualify for a PASS if participating would make you eligible for SSI.
  • Have other income or resources to use to get a job or start a business

How to Set Up a PASS

To set up a PASS, you must create the plan in writing using the PASS application form and send it to the SSA for approval. Download the form here: https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-545.pdf 

Follow the steps outlined below to learn how to complete the application and create a PASS.

Determine Your Work Goal

Choose a career focus that you are interested in. If you need to acquire education or training for a job you want to pursue, your career goal can start with schooling. If you are unsure of the career path you want to follow, the SSA can refer you to a vocational rehabilitation counselor to narrow down your choices. 

Provide Information About Your Medical, Work and Education Background

Create a summary of your medical history and conditions, including any limitations you experience and how you plan to overcome them in your line of work. List all jobs you have held in recent years, including self-employment, military experience and volunteer work. Provide information about any job training, vocational experience or classroom education you have.

Create a Timeline

Depending on the work goal you choose, your timeline for reaching it will vary. List all the steps you need to take to reach your work goal. This will help you create a timeline for checking off all the boxes toward attaining your career.

List Necessary Items or Services 

You may require certain assistive devices or services to help you reach your work goal. For each item or service you need, explain how it will help you reach your goal and estimate the cost of each.

Decide How You Will Fund Your PASS

You must explain to the SSA how you will fund your PASS, making sure to keep your money separate. The SSA suggests PASS participants open a separate bank account for money set aside under the plan.

Submit the PASS Application

Mail the completed form along with any attached documents to your local Social Security office. Find your nearest office here: https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp.

PASS for the Self-Employed

If you plan to start a business, you must create a detailed business plan and attach it to the PASS application form. Your business plan should include the following:

  • Type of business
  • Where you will operate 
  • How you will advertise
  • Items and services you need 
  • Business expenses and how you plan to pay them
  • List of potential customers, competitors and suppliers
  • Expected earnings for the first year 

How to Find a PASS Specialist 

PASS specialists help you create your plan and submit it to the SSA. To find a PASS specialist in your area, you must first determine which cadre region your state belongs to. The table below outlines each of the 10 PASS cadre (group of specialists) regions, states under jurisdiction and corresponding contact information.

RegionCadre LocationJurisdictionToll-Free NumberLocal Phone Number
AtlantaBirmingham, ALAlabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina,  South Carolina,Tennessee800-254-9489205-801-4444
205-801-3483
BostonLynn, MAConnecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island,Vermont866-467-9731 ext. 11318866-467-9731 ext. 11318
ChicagoAkron, OHNorthern Ohio (except Toledo)866-613-3967 ext. 32309866-613-3967 ext. 32309
rowspanGrand Rapids, MIUpper Peninsula, Michigan and Lower Peninsula (except Southeast Michigan)877-322-5883 ext. 18873877-322-5883 ext. 18873
rowspanIndianapolis, INIllinois, Indiana866-931-7057 ext. 32554866-931-7057 ext. 32554
rowspanLancaster, OHSouthern Ohio, Southeastern Indiana877-841-5712 ext. 20910877-841-5712 ext. 20910
rowspanMadison, WISouthern Wisconsin866-807-5995 ext. 26030866-807-5995 ext. 26030
rowspanPontiac, MISoutheast Michigan and Toledo, Ohio866-318-1858 ext. 28449866-318-1858 ext. 28449
rowspanSt. Paul, MNMinnesota and Northern Wisconsin866-667-6032 ext. 34061866-667-6032 ext. 34061
DallasAlbuquerque, NMAbilene, Brownwood, Albuquerque, El Paso, Farmington, Tuba City, Gallup, Chinle, Lubbock, Plainview, Odessa, Midland, Roswell, Carlsbad, Clovis, Hobbs, San Angelo, Big Spring, Santa Fe, Las Cruces, Las Vegas, Amarillo, Pampa, Laredo, Del Rio, Eagle Pass866-931-2876 ext. 14671866-931-2876 ext. 14671
rowspanDallas, TXDallas, Fort Worth, Sherman, Paris, Mt. Pleasant, Waxahachie, Greenville, Cleburne, McKinney, Denton, Wichita Falls, Durant, Lawton, McAlester, Poteau, Ada, Ardmore, Chickasha, Clinton,Texarkana866-592-3688 ext. 20626866-592-3688 ext. 20626
rowspanLafayette, LAAlexandria, Natchitiches, Baton Rouge,  New Orleans, Hammond, Bogalusa, Houma, Morgan City, Lafayette, New Iberia, Opelousas, Lake Charles, DeRidder, Leesville, Monroe,  Ruston, Shreveport, Minden, Kenner, Covington888-619-4771 ext. 15868888-619-4771 ext. 15868
rowspanLittle Rock, ARFayetteville, Harrison, Mt. Home, Fort Smith, Russelville, Hot Springs, El Dorado, Camden, Jonesboro, Batesville, Blytheville, Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Forrest City, West Memphis, Sherwood, Searcy, Conway866-758-1319 ext. 11564866-758-1319 ext. 11564
rowspanPasadena, TXBeaumont, Port Arthur, Galveston, Houston, Lufkin, Pasadena, Conroe, Angleton, Victoria, Longview, Marshall, Palestine, Tyler866-563-4603 ext. 30902866-563-4603 ext. 30902
rowspanPine Bluff, AREnid, Stillwater, Oklahoma City, Shawnee, Tulsa, Bartlesville, Miami, Moore, Muskogee, Okmulgee866-563-9693 ext. 30716 866-563-9693 ext. 30716 
rowspanSan Marcos, TXAustin, Georgetown, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Alice, McAllen, Mission, Brownsville, Harlingen, Temple, Bryan, Brenham, Kerrville, Seguin, San Marcos, Waco, Corsicana866-388-9134 ext. 22208866-388-9134 ext. 22208
DenverLittleton, COColorado, Wyoming888-824-4384 ext. 29911888-824-4384 ext. 29911
rowspanSalt Lake City, UTMontana, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota866-851-5275 ext. 16310866-851-5275 ext. 16310
Kansas CityLincoln, NEKansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska866-592-1755 ext. 23014866-592-1755 ext. 23014
New YorkBuffalo, NYUpstate NY (WNY, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Northern Counties, Mohawk Valley, Capital District and Southern Tier)855-248-0232855-881-0218 ext. 30246
rowspanNew York, NYNew Jersey,Downstate New YorkPASS A-M 866-348-5403 ext. 23648 
PASS N-Z866-348-5403 ext. 23645
866-335-1089
PhiladelphiaTowson, MDDelaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania,Virginia, West Virginia866-667-7698 ext. 12639 or ext. 12640866-667-7698 ext. 12639 or ext. 12640
San FranciscoAnaheim, CALos Angeles, Orange County, Kern County,Ventura County866-657-3133 ext. 22632866-657-3133 ext. 22632
rowspanMadero, CACentral California, Fresno, Hanford, Madera, Porterville, and Visalia877-319-6862ext. 18616 877-319-6862 ext. 18616 
rowspanSacramento, CASacramento,Auburn, Lodi, Merced, Modesto, Placerville, Northern California, Stockton, Napa, Santa Rosa, and Manteca, Roseville, and Sonora877-274-5419 ext. 28318877-274-5419 ext. 28318
rowspanSan Bernardino, CANevada866-964-0991 ext. 12407866-964-0991 ext. 12407
rowspanSan Diego, CASan Diego, Riverside,Imperial and San Bernardino Counties, Hawaii, Arizona, Pacific Islands855-820-0097 ext. 24060 or 24059855-820-0097 ext. 24060 or 24059
rowspanSan Francisco, CASan Francisco, South and East Bay Counties, Marin and Monterey Counties866-964-5051 ext. 19742866-964-1726 ext. 19742
rowspanSanta Maria, CASan Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, and Santa Barbara866-331-2316 ext. 25528866-362-9019 ext. 25528
SeattleOlympia, WAAlaska, Idaho, Washington and Oregon866-235-8109866-235-8109

SSI Fraud

man discussing with lawyer papers ssi fraud

When you apply for Social Security benefits, you are legally required to provide accurate information regarding all aspects of the application. Making false claims, misrepresenting yourself or withholding information is considered fraud, which is a crime. Committing SSI fraud subjects you to fines and imprisonment. Continue reading the sections below to learn more about SSI fraud.

How to Report SSI Fraud

If you suspect someone is committing SSI fraud, you must report it to the SSA immediately. 

To report by phone, call the Office of the Inspector General’s fraud hotline at 1 (800) 269-0271.

To report online, submit a fraud report on the Office of the Inspector General’s website here: https://secure.ssa.gov/pfrf/home. You can choose to remain anonymous, in which case the SSA will not contact you for further information. Or, you can choose to remain confidential, which means the SSA can reach out to you but cannot share your name or data. 

Unless you choose to remain anonymous, you will need to provide the following information to submit a fraud report:

  • Your name
  • Valid email address
  • 10-digit phone number
  • Home address
  • Social Security Number 
  • Name of the person or business committing fraud
  • Summary of suspected fraud

Penalties of SSI Fraud

Depending on the type or frequency of fraud that is committed, the SSA imposes the following penalties:

  • Up to five years in prison
    • Up to 10 years in prison for individuals in positions of trust, like doctors, current or former SSA employees, claimant representatives or translators
  • Up to a $250,000 fine
  • Both imprisonment and a fine

In addition, individuals who commit fraud may have to make restitution, which is a payment to a victim of fraud who suffered a monetary loss. Beneficiaries who received a benefit payment due to fraud are often required to make restitution to the Commissioner of Social Security.

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