How to apply for SSI Disability in California

What are SSI benefits? This is a fairly common question for individuals who are considering filing a claim for disability benefits. SSI stands for supplemental security income and is mandated by title 16 of the social security act.


1. SSI Benefits - who is Eligible
2. What is taken into consideration for SSI eligibility?
3. Will I qualify for SSI?
4. SSI disability requirements

SSI disability benefits exist to provide coverage to those individuals in California and other states who were never insured and eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, as well as individuals who were once insured for SSD benefits but whose coverage has lapsed (due to insufficient work credits in recent years). This, of course, includes disability applications that are filed for minor age children.

SSI disability benefits are unlike Social Security Disability benefits in that the monthly benefit amount is capped to a maximum, though the SSI maximum may be adjusted periodically to account for inflation (with Social Security Disability, the amount you receive each month is based on your earnings record and this, too, may be adjusted for inflation).

SSI benefits differ from Social Security Disability benefits in that a claimant's eligibility to receive benefits may be affected by their assets. To remain eligible to receive SSI benefits, a claimant cannot have more than $2000 in countable assets (such as vehicles other than one's primary mode of transportation and real property other than one's primary residence). And, of course, the reason for this is that SSI is considered a need-based program.

Lastly, SSI benefits may be distinguished from Social Security Disability benefits in this fashion: in most states, an SSI benefits recipient will also be eligible to receive medicaid (I say most because though most states have medicaid, not every state does), which provides for a certain number of doctor visits and filled prescriptions.

Do you apply for SSI benefits any differently than you file for Social Security Disability benefits? No. The application process for SSI benefits is the same and is indistinguishable.

If your claim for SSI benefits is denied, you have the right to file an appeal, and if that first appeal is denied, you have the right to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (generally, your chance of winning SSI benefits at a hearing will be approximately 40% without representation, and 60% with representation).

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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