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Improving Application Processes For Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits

Online access to the current Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application, form #SSA 8000, with its 60 questions across 29-pages has never been available online.  The process is typically done via an in-person visit due to the length and difficulty of the application.  When the COVID-19 pandemic closed Social Security Administration (SSA) offices for 2-years, there was no immediate alternative for the in-person application, hence SSI applications dropped to a 22-year low.  Data from 2019 vs. 2020 show declines by segments:  children with disabilities 51% drop, adults with disabilities 32% drop and age 65+ 55% drop.

SSA’s response to this is improved and streamlined processes for the SSI application.  In March 2022, as SSA offices began opening, they released a new online tool that records requests to schedule appointments for people wanting to file an application for SSI. The most important part of this new tool is it establishes a “protective date”, which will signal the begin date when an application is approved.  Retro-payments will begin the first month after the established protective date.  This is a key protection and gives guidance for end of month activity.  If it is close to month end and you need to help create an application for someone in your care, it’s best to go online to request a meeting with SSA and get the protection date.  This will be greatly beneficial to your consumer as they go thru the SSI application process.

Data collection for the first 9-weeks shows 108,000 people have used this tool since its inception, with over 76,000 attaining an appointment.  You can log onto www.ssa.gov, from the home page, click on the tile for “SSI”, move to the section for “How To Apply” and click the “Get Started” button.

This online application to request a meeting is an 8-page process; an additional page is provided if an agency is helping the individual to file the request for a meeting.  Note, this is just to get an appointment with SSA and establish a protect date.  This is not the application process.  The 9-page process will require the following information:

  1. Who is scheduling the appointment
  2. Beneficiary’s contact information
  3. Date of birth
  4. Social Security #
  5. Information about person’s disability
  6. Agency information
  7. Select preferred language
  8. List any special circumstances (this may trigger a call for exploration before appointment will be scheduled)
  9. Review of submission

 

A successful submission will return a screen to you that says, “appointment request received” and will give you additional information on what to expect, what will happen at the appointment and if there is anything else the individual should know.  At a later date, the individual will be contacted by SSA with an appointment date.

An unsuccessful submission will return a screen that the submission has been blocked.  This may be due to a few reasons:

  1. Trying to defect “bot” activity and identity theft
  2. There is already a pending application
  3. Information does not match, example social security # and date of birth
  4. Individual exists on the Death Master file

 

You will most likely need to contact your local Social Security office and speak with a representative.

Also, SSA’s efforts have begun to simplify the SSI application process by developing an online version of the SSI application.  It has reviewed the statutory and regulatory requirements, changed the approach to a “user-centered” design and reduced the current 60 questions to 23 (this does not account for additional conditional responses).  This is a hybrid, 2-step submission for an online application with technical support by SSA representatives.  This is currently in beta-testing.

In June 2022, Justice In Aging held a webinar to review changes made by SSA.  This month, they released the video recording of this session, which can be accessed via the link below.  The presenter is Kate Lang, Senior Staff Attorney for Justice In Aging.  This is a good summary of the new application process.

 

1-hour presentation – Improving Access to the Application for SSI Benefits
Kate Lang – klang@justiceinaging.org