How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

How do you Apply for SSI?

There are three separate means by which an individual may apply for SSI.

1. Calling the Teleclaim center.

2. Visiting the social security administration website and filing the claim online. Note: The benefit of receiving a protected filing date only pertains to Social Security Disability claims that are filed online, not to SSI claims.

In fact, technically speaking, it is not possible to actually apply for SSI since the online process only provides a point of contact, or lead, for a local security office to follow up on by later contacting a claimant.

3. Contacting a local social security office.

The preferred method will be to contact a local office. The social security administration has, in recent years, encouraged claimants to use the online process. However, there are short-comings and inefficiencies associated with the online process.

For instance, as was mentioned, it is not possible to file for SSI online. This presents a significant complication since many disability claims are either filed solely under the SSI disability program, or are filed concurrently in both programs (see Concurrent Disability claims).

Additionally, there is the simple fact that attempting to apply for SSI or SSDI (Social Security Disability insurance) is a process best served when the claimant has the ability to ask questions and receive answers from a Social Security claims representative (claims reps, or CRs, are the individuals who take disability and retirement claims in social security field offices).

Using the online process does not allow for this and using the toll free 1-800 line often results in the claimant receiving incorrect or outdated information (receiving bad information from the teleclaim center has been a widespread complaint for many years).

Applying for SSI through a social security field office can be initiated by calling the office and requesting that an appointment be made for a disability application interview. The interview can be conducted in person and this is typically the preferred option. However, for individuals who have transportation issues or mobility issues as a result of their condition, the disability interview can be conducted over the phone.

For those who are wondering what makes a the phone interview with a social security field office different from a phone interview with the teleclaims center, the simple answer is that the personnel at a field office actually work on claims whereas the teleclaims center is staffed by individuals who simply take the information from a claimant and then forward the information to a field office.

This nearly ensures that the teleclaims staffers will have very little direct experience when it comes to the processing of a disability claim, and this probably accounts for why so many claimants in recent years have been given incorrect or misleading information from the teleclaim center.

If an SSI application is handled by a local social security field office, a claimant should do the following in advance of the disability interview appointment to ensure that the disability application is filed with the information that is needed to process an accurate decision:

1. Produce a written work history for the fifteen year period prior to the claimant's onset of disability. This fifteen year period is known as the relevant period and all jobs that have been worked during this time frame may potentially be considered as jobs to which the claimant might be considered capable of returning, assuming that their mental or physical condition does not impose functional limitations that rule this out.

It will be especially important for the claimant to include accurate job titles and accurate and detailed descriptions of duties performed on each job. This is important because the majority of SSDI and SSI claims are decided by comparing the demands and work skills of a claimant's past jobs to their current physical or mental condition and determining A) whether or not they possess the ability to go back to a past job and B) whether or not they possess the ability to do some type of other work based on the skills they have developed over the course of their work history.

If a claimant does not compile their work history in advance of the disability application interview, this same information will be requested at the time of the interview. However, doing it in advance will allow a claimant to give more thought and consideration to supplying their work history information--which can be helpful considering that the social security administration requests information for the prior 15 years.

Compiling the work history in advance may also result in more accurate information for the same reasons. And this is particularly important since there are instances in which jobs are misidentified, the result being that the disability claim is denied on the basis of the claimant being able to return to a past job, or is denied on the basis of the claimant having specific job skills that transfer to other types of employment--which may not be the case if one or more jobs are improperly identified. It should go without saying that supplying accurate and detailed information regarding the relevant work history is of utmost important.

2. Produce a history of medical treatment received from all medical treatment providers, dating back to at least the claimant's onset of disability, but preferably to the time of initial diagnosis as well. Disability decisions for SSDI and SSI claims are both medical and vocational in nature, meaning that whether or not a claimant is approved or denied will depend on A) what the claimant's medical records have to say about their condition and B) what the claimant's work history indicates about the requirements of their past work, as well as the work skills they may possess.

Continued at: How to File for SSI, Part II

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

How Far Back Can SSI Back Pay Be Paid?
Legally blind with retinitis pigmentosa, can I file for disability?
What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?
Does sleep apnea treatment qualify a person for temporary SSI disability?
SSI Benefits - who is Eligible and How do I apply for them?
Applying for SSI disability in Florida

How much does a Florida disability lawyer cost?

How Much Can You get in Social Security Disability in Florida?

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.