How to Apply for Emergency SSI Benefits

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are available through the Social Security Administration (SSA) for individuals with little to no income who are either blind, disabled or of an older age. The benefits are designed to help with the individual's basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. In certain situations, the SSA allows those who qualify for the program to request emergency benefits.

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Check Eligibility Requirements First

Before you go through the process of applying for emergency SSI disability, it's a good idea to make sure you're eligible. Both adults and children who are either blind or disabled are eligible, so long as they meet income, residency and other requirements. The same goes for individuals who are aged ​65 or older​. Assets also play a role in eligibility, as individuals and children can't have more than ​$2,000​ and couples more than ​$3,000​.

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Since there is a long list of eligibility requirements, the SSA created a Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool that you can use to more accurately determine whether or not you qualify to apply.

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Schedule an Appointment

Once you know you're eligible, contact an SSA representative by calling ​800-772-1213​ (TTY ​800-325-0778​) between the hours of ​8:00 a.m.​ and ​7:00 p.m.​ any Monday through Friday or by calling your local SSA office and requesting to schedule an appointment. Appointments may be made in person and, in some cases, over the phone.

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When talking with the SSA representative, ask for a list of all required documentation. This will give you time to gather the paperwork before your appointment. Your application will not be approved without these items, so in order to get an SSI immediate payment, you'll need to be quick with providing the organization with everything it needs to make a decision.

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Make Your Request

According to the SSA, there are four situations in which a person can request an emergency SSI payment. They are:

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  1. Presumptive disability (PD) or presumptive blindness (PB) payment​. This payment is based on the severity of the individual's condition, and not their income (although their income must qualify for SSI). Emergency payments are available for ​up to six months​.
  2. Emergency advance payment​. If you are due SSI payments but have not received them, you can get a one-time advance on your benefits. This is income-based, so you must be facing a financial emergency to qualify.
  3. Immediate payment​. New applicants who have not yet been approved and those due SSI benefits that have been delayed or not received can request an immediate payment if they have an emergent financial need. The payment varies, but will not exceed ​$999​.
  4. Expedited reinstatement cases​. If you previously received SSI benefits that ended in the last ​five years​, you can request to be reinstated quickly if you, once again, meet the qualifications. Provisional benefits of ​up to six months​ can be issued, but you will need to provide new documentation from your medical providers.

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Repayment of Emergency SSI Disability

If you receive a presumptive disability, presumptive blindness or expedited reinstatement payment while waiting on a final decision and are ultimately found not to qualify, you are not responsible to repay the benefits. The exception to this is if you misrepresented your income and, as a result, an overpayment was made. You would then be responsible to pay back the excess.

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Those who receive an advance or immediate payment will have the amount of the emergency payment subtracted from their regular payments until the organization has been paid back in full.

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