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You can walk out of the Social Security office with a check the same day you apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if your medical condition qualifies you for the Presumptive Disability Program. Under the program, you can receive up to six months of SSI payments while you complete the paperwork and your claim is reviewed.

Once you qualify for SSI, you can also get an advance of all or a part of the next month's SSI payment for an immediate, urgent need such as an emergency.

If you receive presumptive SSI benefits, they only last for six months. Therefore, it's in your interest to get your paperwork in as soon as possible, so your situation can be reviewed and approved within the six month period. If you are not approved within six months, payments will stop.  

Presumptive Disability Program

Eligibility: To receive these payments because of a presumptive disability, you must:

  • Meet all the income and resource factors of eligibility (See: Eligibility For SSI) and
  • Provide documentation, including a physician's statement, that you fit within one of the categories of people who are eligible for this benefit.

Following is a list of specific impairments for purposes of SSI presumptive disability. However, once any disability case reaches the DDS (the state office which determines the existence of disability), it can become a presumptive disability. The local Social Security office can't make a presumptive disability decision. However, the Social Security office can ask DDS to make a presumptive disability decision.

The most common specific impairments for purposes of SSI presumptive disability are:

  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.
  • A physician or knowledgeable hospice official confirms an individual is receiving hospice services because of terminal cancer.
  • Amputation of two limbs.
  • Amputation of a leg at the hip.
  • Allegation of total deafness.
  • Allegation of total blindness.
  • Allegation of bed confinement or immobility without a wheelchair, walker, or crutches, due to a longstanding condition, excluding a recent accident or surgery.
  • Allegation of a stroke (cerebral vascular accident) more than 3 months in the past and continued marked difficulty in walking or using a hand or arm.
  • Allegation of cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy or muscle atrophy and marked difficulty in walking (e.g., use of braces), speaking, or coordination of the hands or arms.
  • Allegation of diabetes with amputation of a foot.
  • Allegation of Down's syndrome.
  • Allegation of spinal cord injury producing inability to ambulate without the use of a walker or bilateral hand-held assistive device more than two weeks following a spinal cord injury with verification of such status from an appropriate medical professional.

Payments: Presumptive Disability payments:

  • Are for the same amount for which you would be eligible for under regular SSI rules.
  • May be made for up to 6 months pending the formal determination of disability or blindness.
  • Begin with the month in which the presumptive disability/blindness finding is made by the local Social Security office or State disability determination agency.
  • End after 6 months if a formal determination has not been made.

If There Is A Final determination That You Are Not Disabled or Blind:

  • You will not receive any further SSI benefits.
  • You can keep the money you've received - unless the formal rejection is due to a nonmedical factor of eligibility, such as if you lied about the amount of your income or resources.

Emergency Advance Payments

At the time you apply for Presumptive SSI Disability - and only when applying for Presumptive SSI Disability - you can ask for an Emergency Advance Payment based on dire need. If your Presumptive claim is approved, and if the office you are applying at has check-writing capability (all Field Offices and some Branch Offices), and if they agree, they can and often will cut you a check immediately so you can leave with the money.

An Emergency Advance Payment is to assist in emergencies such as if you are moving and need extra money for the move or are about to be evicted from your apartment. An Emergency Advance Payment is not an additional payment. It truly is an "Advance" payment. You aren't eligible for SSI benefits, even Presumptive benefits, until the first of the month following date of application.

Most offices will only allow you to get as an Emergency Advance Payment equal to a pro-rated amount of the next month's check based on the day of the month that you apply. For example: If you apply and are approved for Presumptive and request an Emergency Advance Payment on the 20th of the month, you may be given an Emergency Advance Payment for 1/3 of the next month's payment.

Any money you walk out of the office with will be subtracted from the next month's payment. If taking the full amount out of your next month's check will create a substantial burden, Social Security may elect to withhold 1/6 of the Emergency Advance Payment from the next six SSI checks.

NOTE: Not all Social Security field offices have check-writing capabilities. Look for a District office. If you apply for an Emergency Advance Payment at a District office, you should be able to walk out with a check. Branch offices usually can get a check issued, but it may take two to three days for you to get it.

Applying For Presumptive SSI Disability

To receive these payments, you must appear to meet all the income and resource factors of eligibility and also provide documentation, including a physician's statement, that you fit within one of the categories of people who are eligible for this benefit. See above for a list of conditions that fit as Presumptive disabilities.

One of the documents you will need to bring is a statement from your doctor detailing your disability and showing that it falls within one of the criteria. Don't be surprised if your local office insists that the doctor's statement also be faxed from the doctor's office. Some offices are requiring that due to an increase in fraudulent applications.

If you have HIV/AIDS, for a list of the kinds of information Social Security asks professionals to help determine whether you are disabled as defined in the law, see: offsite link

We have been informed by a benefits counselor that there are some Social Security offices that have refused to accept an application for Presumptive Disability payments. Should you encounter such an office, go to the supervisor. This can be a losing battle, however, since it is the local office that determines your eligibility for Presumptive benefits.

Applying for an Emergency Advance Payment (EAP)

Emergency Advance Payments are at the discretion of the local Social Security office. The procedure for an Emergency Advance Payment varies among the various offices even more than Presumptive SSI.

In addition to having Branch offices that can't issue checks, there are offices that will refuse to immediately write a check and make you return in a few days to get the check.

Others will not make Emergency Advance Payments at all.

Hopefully, a knowledgeable person at your local disease specific non-profit organization will know how your local offices handle these payments. The organization can also help guide you about maximizing your chances for obtaining an advance.