How to Sign Up for SSI Benefits

SSI benefits are Supplemental Security Income administered through the Social Security Administration. These benefits are designated for blind, disabled and aged people who have limited resources. Benefits are for those 65 and older, or for peoole of any age who are blind or disabled. Typically, those who receive SSI will also get Medicaid benefits. You must be a U.S. resident and a citizen or national, or an eligible alien, to be eligible for SSI benefits. Benefits are paid monthly on the first day of each month.

Understand eligibility requirements. "Aged" means 65 and older. "Blind" means vision of 20/200 or less in your better eye with correction, or you have visual field limitation in your better eye resulting in an angle no greater than 20 degrees. For a child under 18, "disabled" means a medically determined physical or mental disability or impairment that severely limits functioning, can result in death, or has lasted or is expected to last at least a continuous year. For an adult, "disabled" means the impairment causes you to be unable to be gainfully employed or engaged in gainful activity, may result in death, or is expected to last for at least a continuous year.

Collect and make copies of documents that prove your age. This may be your public birth record or birth certificate, or a religious birth record. It must have been recorded before you were age 5. You may use other documents that show proof of your age and date of birth.

Collect and make copies of documents proving your citizenship such as a birth certificate, baptism or religious birth record, naturalization certificate, U.S. passport or certificate of citizenship (see References).

Gather and copy documents that prove your income, such as pay stubs, award letters, bank statements, tax returns and related items. Also gather documents related to your resources, such as bank account information, insurance information, deeds and titles for properties, and stocks or bonds. You'll also need documents showing your living arrangement like your lease, tax bills, and utilities and household expense information. If you live with other people, you will need the Social Security numbers for all those living with you. The SSA also requires information on your work history, including dates, hours, pay, and employer contact information.

Gather all the medical information you have if you are applying for disability reasons. Have medical records if they are available, dates of all appointments, and a description of all appointments and treatments. Include a list of all your treating physicians and their contact information, and a list of all prescription medicines you take. The more detailed and organized your medical information is, the better.

Contact the Social Security Administration. You can call 1-800-772-1213. The TTY number for deaf or hard of hearing is 1-800-325-0778. When you call you can set up an appointment to apply either over the phone or in person at a local office. You can also go into your local office without an appointment, but wait times can be lengthy.

Keep a log of all contact you have with the Social Security Administration, including dates and times of contact, names of people you have talked to, and a list and copy of all documents that the SSA requested and which you sent.

Read up on your rights and the appeal process in the event your claim is denied.


About the Author

Katlyn Joy has been a freelance writer since 1982. She graduated from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville with a master's degree in writing. While in school she served as graduate assistant editor of "Drumvoices Revue" magazine.