Apply for Benefits

To qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you must:

This article looks in detail at SSI’s rules for adults ages 18 through 64.

Learn more about the rules for children under 18 in DB101’s Benefits for Young People article.

Requirements for Noncitizens

To get SSI, you have to be a U.S. citizen or qualified alien. Examples of qualified aliens include people who are:

  • Lawfully Admitted for Permanent Residence (LAPR) in the U.S.
  • Refugees admitted to the U.S. under Section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
  • Granted asylum under Section 208 of the INA

To get SSI, qualified aliens must also meet certain other conditions. For more details about the rules for noncitizens, contact your local Social Security office.

How to Apply

You can apply for SSI:

You can start your application online by filling out an Adult Disability Report, but you must complete it by phone or in person.

Note: If you are approved, you will get SSI benefits for the entire time since the date you applied. That’s why you should apply as soon as possible. If you don’t have everything ready for your application, that’s OK — you can still apply and submit any missing information later.

Getting Your Application Ready

When you apply for SSI, you’ll need to give Social Security:

  1. Basic facts, like your name, date of birth, and address

Note: You don’t need to have a fixed address. If you’re homeless or don’t have a fixed address, you can still get SSI, just like anyone else. Read Social Security’s Spotlight on Homelessness.

Bring:

  • Identification, like your passport, driver’s license, or state ID
  • Birth certificate
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship, like naturalization papers or your U.S. passport, if you are a citizen born outside the U.S.
  • Social Security Number
  1. Documentation of your medical condition

Bring:

  • Names of doctors, hospitals, clinics, and professionals who have treated you, including complete addresses and phone numbers
  • Prescriptions and results of medical tests
  • Documentation explaining how your medical condition affects your daily life

Be ready to:

  • Sign forms allowing Social Security to get copies of your medical records
  • Fill out forms about how your disability affects your daily life
  • Give Social Security permission to contact your employer, friends, or family to learn how your disability affects you
  1. Documentation of your income

Bring:

  • A list of the types of jobs you’ve done for the past 15 years
  • Copies of recent tax records or W-2 forms
  • Information about other benefits you’re on
  • School records, if you’re under 22
  1. Documentation of your resources

Bring:

  • Copies of bank statements

Be ready to:

  • Answer questions and give proof about any real estate, savings and retirement accounts, stocks, bonds, or other resources that you own

Apply for Other Benefits While Your SSI Application Is Reviewed

The SSI application can take four months or longer. While you wait for your SSI benefits to begin, apply for other benefits, such as:

  • Medicaid, free health coverage for people with low to moderate income. You automatically get Medicaid coverage if you qualify for SSI, but you should apply for it separately if you don't get SSI benefits yet, so that you have coverage until SSI begins. Learn more about Medicaid in DB101’s How Health Benefits Work article.
  • Food Assistance, a monthly cash benefit for people with low income that helps pay for food. If you and everybody else in your household gets either SSI or Ohio Works First (OWF) benefits, you automatically qualify for Food Assistance.
  • Ohio Works First (OWF), a monthly cash benefit for families with children that also helps parents find work.
  • Emergency cash assistance and housing, if you need them.

To apply for these benefits:

You should also look into:

The Disability Financial Assistance (DFA) program ended

Disability Financial Assistance was a program that paid a small monthly benefit to low-income people with disabilities who do not get SSI. This benefit helped until Social Security decided on an SSI application and ended when a person started getting SSI benefits.

The program was phased out in 2017 and no longer offers benefits.