How to Apply for SSI

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program designed to assist individuals who have limited income and resources. The program provides monthly payments to those who qualify, helping cover basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter.  

Unlike SSDI benefits, SSI does not require previous work experience, making it accessible to a broader range of individuals, including those who are aged, blind, or disabled. 

Applying for SSSI can be an overwhelming process without the right guidance. As an experienced disability attorney at Lloyd King Law Firm PLLC, I’m here to walk you through the steps and necessary documents to successfully apply for SSI benefits

Steps to Apply for SSI

If you have any doubts or questions going into this process, please consider consulting with a disability benefits attorney who can provide personalized guidance through each step

1) Verify Your Eligibility 

By ensuring you're eligible before starting the application, you can save yourself time and avoid the frustrations associated with a denial.  

The eligibility criteria for SSI includes: 

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

  • Having limited income and resources. 

  • Being either a U.S. citizen, a national, or an eligible noncitizen resident. 

  • Residing in one of the 50 states, Washington D.C., or the Northern Mariana Islands. 

  • Not being absent from the country for more than 30 consecutive days. 

  • Not being confined in any government institution, e.g., prison or public hospital, at the government's expense. 

2) Gather Your Documents 

Before starting your application, it's crucial to gather all necessary documentation. This ensures that you don’t have to delay the process or risk denial due to incomplete information. The key documents you’ll  include: 

  • Social Security card 

  • Proof of age, such as a birth certificate 

  • Records of your home information, like a mortgage, lease, or landlord's contact details 

  • Payroll slips 

  • Bank books or checkbooks 

  • Insurance policies 

  • Burial fund records 

  • Medical records, including names, addresses, and phone numbers of doctors, hospitals, and clinics 

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen status 

3) Complete the Forms 

SSI application forms can be found online at the Social Security Administration's (SSA) website or can be picked up from a local SSA office. Make sure to fill out each section completely and accurately. Any missing information can slow down your application or lead to an outright denial. 

If you’re completing the forms online, ensure you have all your documents handy to help you fill in the details accurately. Double-check all entries for errors or omissions, as even small mistakes can cause delays or complications in the processing of your application. 

Once completed, make copies of all documents and forms for your records before submitting them. If you feel uncertain at any stage, consider consulting with a disability benefits attorney who can review your forms and make sure everything is in order, thus increasing your chances of a successful application. 

4) Submit the Application 

After gathering all required documents and completing the forms, the next step is to submit your application. This can be done online, by mail, or in person at a local SSA office.  

I recommend filing online for quicker processing, but if you have any doubts or complications, doing it in person can provide the benefit of direct communication with SSA staff. 

Seek the Benefits You Deserve
Let Me Help 

After Filing Your Application

Once your application is submitted, be prepared for the SSA to contact you for additional information or documentation. Some of the common requests include: 

  • Additional medical information: They might ask for more detailed medical records, recent test results, or updated reports from your healthcare providers to confirm the severity and impact of your condition. 

  • Income verification: You may need to provide more recent payroll slips, bank statements, or other sources of income to ensure that your financial situation meets SSI's requirements. 

  • Living arrangements details: The SSA might require further clarification on your living situation, including rent agreements, utility bills, or a written statement from your landlord or housemates, to confirm your residence and the expenses you incur. 

  • Resource documentation: You may need to submit additional proof of your resources, such as updated insurance policies, complete bank account information, or details about any assets you own. 

  • Proof of citizenship or residency: While initial documentation would have been submitted, the SSA could ask for additional proof to verify your citizenship or eligible noncitizen status, like a passport or a naturalization certificate. 

Responding promptly and thoroughly to these requests is essential, as delays or incomplete responses can significantly impact the processing of your application. Be sure you keep a copy of every document submitted and stay in touch with SSA representatives to ensure you understand their needs and provide accurate information. If any aspect of these requests is unclear, consult with an SSI attorney. 

If Your Application Gets Denied

This is not the end of the road. You have options for proceeding and potentially overturning the decision. Here's an overview of the appeals process: 

  1. Reconsideration: The first step is to request a reconsideration of your application. This involves a complete review of your case by someone who was not involved in the original decision. You can submit new evidence or clarify existing information during this stage. 

  1. Hearing by an administrative law judge (ALJ): If your reconsideration request is denied, you can request a hearing before an ALJ. This hearing provides an opportunity to present your case in person and submit additional evidence. Having legal representation can be particularly beneficial during this step. 

  1. Appeals council review: If the ALJ denies your claim, you can request a review by the Social Security Appeals Council. The council may decide to review your case, send it back to the ALJ for further review, or it can deny your request. 

  1. Federal court review: As a final measure, if all previous appeals are unsuccessful, you can file a lawsuit in federal district court. This step involves more formal legal procedures and often requires the assistance of an attorney specializing in SSI or disability law. 

Having an experienced disability attorney can significantly improve your chances of a successful appeal.

Contact a Supplemental Security Income Attorney in North Carolina Today

Applying for SSI can undoubtedly be confusing and stressful, but please know that you don't have to go through the process alone. Let me assist you from start to finish. Contact Lloyd King Law Firm PLLC in Raleigh, North Carolina, today. I serve individuals in Roanoke Rapids, Fayetteville, Greensboro, and beyond.