How to Apply for Social Security Benefits
Our Guide to Applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits
What is SSI?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes). SSI provides minimum basic financial assistance to older adults and persons with disabilities (regardless of age) with very limited income and resources.
- SSI is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income; and
- It provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
Who qualifies for SSI?
The SSI program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. SSI benefits also are payable to people 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial limits.
An adult with a disability:
- Are between the ages of 18 and 65
- Have never been married
- Are a U.S. citizen
- Haven’t applied for or received SSI benefits in the past
- Are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance at the same time as your SSI claim
A child with a disability:
Social Security does not yet have an online application for Children’s benefits. Visit Apply For Disability Benefits – Child (Under Age 18) to apply for your child.
What documents do I need to apply?
You may not need all of the following documents. The SSA will tell you what you need and what other documents are acceptable. The SSA may also be able to help you get them if you're having trouble.
Social Security Number (SSN):
- Social Security Card
Proof of Age:
- a public birth record recorded before age 5; or
- other documents showing your age or date of birth.
- birth certificate showing you were born in the United States; or
- naturalization certificate; or
- other documents showing your citizenship.
Proof of Income:
- Earned Income – payroll stubs, or if self–employed, a tax return for the last tax year;
- Unearned Income – any records you have showing how much you receive, how often, and the source of the payment
Proof of Resources:
- bank statements for all checking and savings accounts;
- deed or tax appraisal statement for all property you own besides the house you live in;
- certificates of deposit, stocks, or bonds;
- titles or registrations for vehicles like cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, campers, etc.
Proof of Living Arrangements:
- lease or rent receipt;
- names, dates of births, medical assistance cards or Social Security numbers for all household members;
- deed or property tax bill; and
- information about household costs for rent, mortgage, food, and utilities.
If you are applying as a disabled child, or on behalf of a disabled child, the SSA needs the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of people (for example, teachers or caregivers) who can provide information about how the child’s medical condition affects his or her daily activities. Also, if the child has an individualized education plan (IEP) at his or her school, it is helpful to submit a copy of the plan.
Where do I apply?
When you're ready to apply for SSI benefits you can open the SSA's online application by clicking here.
You can also call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (or TTY 1-800-325-0778 if you are deaf or hard of hearing) and make an appointment to apply for SSI benefits.
Although the wait time may be longer, you can also visit your local Social Security office to apply without making an appointment
How do I set up Direct Deposit?
You must receive your payments electronically. Direct deposit is a simple, safe, and secure way to get benefits. To setup direct deposit be sure to have the following information when you apply:
- Your Social Security number;
- Your Financial Institution's Routing number;
- Account type (checking or savings); and
- Account number
We recommend opening a Purple Spending Account which has no fees or minimums and allows you to get your SSI benefits payments up to 2 days early. A Purple account also comes with a Mastercard® debit card that you can use to spend anywhere Mastercard® is accepted. Sign up for a Purple account.
What happens after I apply?
Once you complete the online application process, a Social Security representative will contact you by mail or phone if they need additional information.
Social Security will also mail you a paper copy of the Application Summary for you to sign and return.
You can check the status of your application online using your my Social Security account.
Still need help?
Visit the SSA website to learn more about SSI benefits and the application process here.
If applying for a child under the age of 18 visit this page which has additional information and next steps on how to apply.
As always, feel free to email us if you have any questions and we'll help to point you in the right direction.