How to Apply for SSI

by Brad Myler

In the United States, the Social Security Administration authorizes payments to eligible applicants who become disabled, to certain survivors of deceased workers, and to retired workers. An applicant who is disabled, blind or has reached the age of 65 also may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income, or “SSI application.”

Workers age 62 and older can apply for Social Security retirement benefits online or at their local Social Security office. Retirees who apply for early benefits instead of waiting until full retirement age are paid at reduced rates. The beginning benefit amount usually stays the same for the rest of the retired worker’s life except for cost-of-living adjustments, or “COLA.”

Because every person’s situation is different, survivors of deceased workers cannot apply for benefits online. They must schedule an in-person visit at their local Social Security office. When they call, the field representative can tell them what they need to bring to the meeting.

Social Security Disability Insurance

Workers under the age of 66 who become physically or mentally unable to continue to work at any gainful employment may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, or “SSDI.” The disabling condition must be expected to result in death or to last more than 12 months. The applicant must be incapable of performing substantial gainful activity in any field of work.

A person with a disabling condition can start the process to apply for disability by going online or by scheduling an appointment with the local Social Security Administration, or “SSA,” office. The applicant must complete several forms and participate in an hour-long interview. The applicant also must document his or her work history, submit medical records, and complete a questionnaire that assesses daily living activities.

The application process also requires a doctor’s written assessment of the applicant’s residual functional capacity. If the applicant does not take the initiative by securing the assessment form and persuading his or her physician to complete and submit it, SSA officials will assign one of their medical or psychological consultants to perform the evaluation. Because the consultant is affiliated with SSA and has no prior knowledge of the applicant’s condition, the results of such an evaluation are likely to be less favorable to the applicant.

Receiving an benefits award after applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a lengthy process. Rarely does the Social Security Administration approve an application upon first submission. If benefits are denied, the applicant has the right to request reconsideration. If no award results from the review, the next step is to request a hearing. Should the hearing judge deny benefits, the applicant can file an appeal. If the appeal fails, the case may wind up in Federal District Court.

Supplemental Security Income

Applicants for SSI must schedule an appointment with the field representative at their local Social Security office. The SSI application requires in-depth information regarding resources owned or available to the applicant, including all sources of revenue. If the applicant is blind or disabled, he or she also must provide medical information.

Application Assistance

For further SSI help or information on SSI back pay, contact Trajector Disability Advocates (formerly Myler Disability).

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