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What To Take With You When You Apply For SSI

What To Take With You When You Apply For SSI


Take originals of each of the following with you to your interview. Don't delay your appointment if you can't put your fingers on any of these documents or information. Social Security will help you get what you don't have.

The Social Security representative should copy or scan each document and return the original while you are there. However, it's a good idea to make a copy of important documents before handing them over "just in case."

Proof of Birth
  • If you were born in the USA, Social Security requires an original or state-certified copy of your birth certificate. If you were not born in the USA, in addition to an original or certified copy of your birth certificate, Social Security will accept other childhood identification such as a baptismal certificate or grade school records that show your date of birth.
  • If you don't have a certified copy of your birth certificate, contact the hospital at which you were born and request a certified copy. You may also request a certified copy from the Department of Records/Vital Statistics in the state where you were born, but it may take some time to receive.
  • If you don't have proof of your date of birth, it is advisable not to wait to obtain it before applying for SSI. It's important to lock in the date as early as possible since SSI claims won't be back dated. Social Security will help you obtain this proof by means of their form, SSA-L706 (12-89).
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen, proof of residency status.

Military discharge papers (DD-214), if you were in the military.

Social Security card or number

  • Social Security prefers a copy of your Social Security card, but will generally accept the number. This information is used to rule out eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and other benefits.
  • If you have worked under more than one Social Security number, take proof of all the numbers you've used. Proof can consist of paycheck stubs, W-2 forms, tax returns, and similar documents.
  • Social Security card or number for your spouse, and each dependent. If you are also applying for benefits for your spouse, children, or other dependents, you will need proof of age for each of them.

All income and resources (assets)

Proof of income and resources regardless of source. Assemble and take as much documentation as possible about each of the following:

  • Government benefits such as General Relief, unemployment or State Disability benefits. Check stubs are the best proof of these payments.
  • Wages. Proof such as:
    • W2 forms or tax returns for last year.
    • Paycheck stubs (Social Security prefers paycheck stubs as proof of wages)
  • W-2 forms or tax return for last year.
  • Unearned income from sources including interest, dividends, commissions, and royalties.
  • Workers' Compensation information if you also have a Workers' Compensation claim.
  • State Disability check stubs if you live in California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, or Puerto Rico.
  • Any other source of income.
  • Loans if someone is loaning you money -- the best proof of which is a signed loan agreement.
  • Checking or savings account number if you have one.
    • Information about your housing such as:
    • Your mortgage agreement and/or payment record,
    • Your lease or rental agreement. If you rent a room, a note from your landlord will do.
    • Your landlord's name and address.
    • All information that would show either your income or resources (assets) or lack of income or resources, such as:
    • Payroll slips.
    • Bank books. If you are registered as a joint owner of an account, it will be assumed that the entire value of the account belongs to you unless you provide proof to the contrary.
    • Brokerage accounts.
    • Money market account statements.
    • Insurance policies, including life insurance policies which have a cash value, fire or homeowners insurance policies and any policies which list assets.
    • Car registration.
    • Burial fund records.
    • Any other income and things you own.
    • Debts relating to any of your resources. Social Security needs to know the "equity" in your assets. For example, a second car may count as only $500 if the current value is $3,000 but there is a loan outstanding on it of $2,500.
  • Since SSI is a needs-based program, expect that Social Security will conduct a search to make sure that your resources and income are as low as you state.

Contact Information

Name, address and phone number of a person who can get in touch with you if necessary. It would be helpful if this person can also confirm how your health condition affects your daily activities and ability to work.

If you work:

Records of expenses that are arguably necessary to permit you to work that are related to your "disability." Social Security generally is only concerned with your gross income and does not want any of your expense records. However, if you have expenses that are necessary to permit you to work that are related to your "disability," you may be able to have those expenses deducted from your gross income. To learn more, see: IRWE.

If you are applying for SSI based on "disability":

Take proof of medical condition. Although Social Security doesn't request or require it initially, you can substantially speed up the process if you obtain copies of all your medical records from your various medical practitioners and take them with you to the interview, . See Section 4 of form SSA-3368-BK for which medical records you will need to obtain. (The form is available at: offsite link). It is preferable to review the record with your doctor(s) to make sure every symptom, infection, pain and complaint is thoroughly documented, as well as how they affect your ability to work. To speed the process (and receipt of your first check), also consider taking with you:

  • A detailed disability statement from your doctor(s), listing all of your symptoms and stating how these symptoms keep you from working. NOTE: This is virtually required if you intend to apply for Presumptive Disability.
  • Third party testimony. Letters and written statements from friends, co-workers, family, or any one who knows about your condition and has observed its effects on your day-to-day functioning. See Affidavits And Statements From Friends, Family And Co-Workers for tips about these letters and statements. One of the most helpful letters could come from your supervisor or employer who has observed, and perhaps even written up, the decline in your performance at work.

If you are married and living with a spouse:

Proof of your spouse's income and resources.

If you are an eligible non-citizen:

Proof of residency status.

If you receive government housing assistance:

Proof about the amount.

If you are a child applying for SSI benefits:

See SSA Form - 3881-BK (11-97): Questionnaire for Children Claiming SSI Benefits. (available at: offsite link)

If you can get them, it would also be helpful to go to the meeting with:

  • Proof of your medical condition (such as a copy of your medical records)
  • The completed forms, or at least the answers to questions asked on the forms, used in the SSI determination process. See: The Forms Used When Applying For SSI.

Notarized statements (known as an "affidavits") from your boss or co-workers, and family or friends. These affidavits should explain the ways that your symptoms have affected your ability to work.

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