It has been difficult in the past to apply for SSI because you had to call the field office or the 1-800 customer service number to start the process. It was difficult to get ahold of anyone and thus people gave up or applied later than they would have. To their credit, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) recognized the problem and created an easy online process that helps people to begin.
You start by going to the SSI benefits page and click on “Get Started.” You are then directed to another page which tells you the information you need to have before you may apply:
- Name, date of birth, and Social Security number of the person interested in SSI
- Mailing address, phone number, and email address (optional) for the person interested in SSI
- Your name, phone number, and email address (optional) if you are helping someone else
After you submit this information, a SSA representative may call you to set up a time to begin the application on the phone or will send you information giving you an appointment in person.
The online form only gets the ball rolling for an appointment; it does not start the application. Nevertheless, this online tool is terrific because you automatically establish a “protective filing date,” after you complete the form. This is the date your benefits will have been considered to have started if you later are awarded benefits. You do not lose any time waiting to speak to anyone at Social Security, as you would have in the past, because the clock starts rolling the minute you submit the form.
Please note that you may only submit the form during normal business hours. (I just tried to do it at midnight and received an error message.)
It is easy to fill out the form on a cell phone or a computer and no different from the millions of other types of applications we complete.
SSA has taken a really big step forward in creating this tool; it makes it easier for them, for us and the people we serve.