When you’re ready to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you can apply in person at your nearest Social Security Administration (SSA) office, over the telephone, or online at the SSA website. If you apply in person, you should come prepared to wait, as it may take an hour or more before someone is available to see you due to the overload of disability cases.
Applying online is a better option for many, though it does have the drawback of not having direct contact with anyone who can answer questions or help you work through any difficulties you may have with the application process. Many find that applying by phone offers the best of both worlds by allowing you to work with a representative of the SSA without requiring long wait times in the SSA office.
Before you apply for SSI, you will want to figure out what assets you own. You will also want to gather any medical records which relate to your disability, including what doctors you have seen, what medications you take, and what treatments have been prescribed. You will be asked many questions regarding your disability, your assets, and any income which you may have.
Most Social Security Disability claims, whether for SSDI or SSI, are initially denied. The more complete your information on your initial claim, the better your chances of bypassing the lengthy appeals process will be. If you can get your doctor to write a detailed statement regarding your disability and how it affects your day to day activities, you will have a much better chance of having your initial application accepted.
You should approach the application process with the full understanding that your initial application is likely to be denied, even if you have everything in order. Having a disability advocate help you file can give you a bit of an edge in this process, since they know what it takes to qualify for disability benefits under SSA guidelines and how to best present the evidence of your disability. A disability advocate will even work directly with your doctor regarding the verbiage to use in order to best present your medical condition to the SSA. Additionally, should you need to go through the appeals process your disability advocates will already be familiar with the details of your case.
Expect to wait as much as three months for an initial decision regarding your Social Security Disability case. If you have certain conditions which automatically qualify you as disabled, called compassionate allowances, you may be approved more quickly. While you are waiting for the initial decision regarding your disability, make sure that you attend any consultations which are requested, as failure to do so can lead to your disability claim being denied. If you are unable to attend a scheduled consultation for one reason or another, reschedule it as soon as you possibly can.
If you receive a denial of Social Security Disability benefits, consider consulting a Social Security lawyer or disability advocate if you’re not already working with one. The appeals process can be rather drawn out, and you improve your chance of having your claim accepted at every level if you have professional representation. Best of all, a Social Security lawyer won’t cost you anything unless you are approved for SSI and/or SSDI. Even then, your lawyer’s fees will come out of the back pay which is owed to you rather than out of the ongoing benefits which you will receive.