If your situation changes, your SSI check will change. But it won’t happen by magic. You’ve got to make it happen.
Some people think, “They are Social Security. They know this already know what’s up! They will change my check if it needs to be changed. I don’t have to tell them.”
Or they think, “They know I stopped working. They can see my taxes.”
Or, “They know I got a divorce. They are Social Security for God’s sake.”
Or, “They know I moved into my mom’s house instead of paying rent. I called them and told them my new address and said it was my mom’s house.”
This is all good, logical thinking.
Good, logical, wrong.
It Won’t Happen By Magic
- Social Security is not going to change your check unless you ask them to
- If your situation has changed, or you think you should be getting a different check, you need to call them and make an appointment
- Call up and say, “I’d like to make an appointment for an SSI interview”
- It can be a phone or in person appointment – your choice.
- Here’s what happens during an SSI Interview
- After the appointment, your check will change. Magic!
How to Notify Social Security
- You can call, visit or write Social Security to tell them about a change in your income or living situation.
- Tell them right away or as soon as possible. Time is not on your side.
- If you start working or get more income, always notify them in writing and keep a copy of what you sent in and a receipt that it was received. Believe me when I tell you that someday you may be very glad you did.
- If you are still applying, they probably will not want to do an SSI interview right now. They may wait until after you are approved.
Tips & Warnings
- Warning: When you notify them of a change, your check may go up or it may go down. It depends on the change.
- Warning: If you wait a long time and then notify them, then they may want some of their money back. For example, if you have been getting free rent for six months but do not tell them, then when you finally tell them, they will want some money back from the last six months.
- Warning: Social Security will sometimes call people to ask for updates on their finances and living situations. Don’t wait for them to contact you. It’s best to contact them first so no problems arise.
- Tip: Social Security will not change your check automatically. For example, lets say you get separated from your spouse or you stop working at your job. You must contact Social Security and notify them.
- Tip: Sometimes telling them is still not enough. You may also need to request an SSI interview to have your check redetermined. For example, if you call and say you have moved to a new apartment and now started paying rent, the first person you talk to may just change your address in the system and not raise your check. They may not understand what you are asking for, or they may not know all the Social Security regulations. You can help Social Security by letting them know why you are calling and what you are asking for.
- Tip: If SSI ever lowers or discontinues your check, and you don’t agree or don’t understand why, you have the right to appeal within 60 days. A regular disability lawyer will not help you with this situation. Your local nonprofit low-income legal aid center may help. However, you do not need a lawyer, you can just send in a request for reconsideration form. If that doesn’t work, don’t give up, you can appeal.
- Tip: If you are having trouble understanding what is going on with your SSI check, you can post below or check out this page on How to Escape the Information Black Hole
- Tip: If they tell you that you owe money and you cannot afford it, they will lower your future check by 10%. You also can ask them to forget about the money they owe by requesting an overpayment waiver. If that doesn’t work, don’t give up, you can appeal.
- Tip: If SSI is continuing to make a mistake with your check, contact your Congressperson. They may be able to help.
- Tip: If you are notifying them about something in important, it is best to do it in writing. Make a copy of what you send. Send it by certified mail, or bring it to your local office and get a stamped receipt. If your form gets lost or any other problems come up it will help you to be able to show proof that you notified them.