How to Handle an SSI Interview

Art: Robin Mead

An SSI appointment is a financial interview to see if you are eligible for SSI. Basically, they are checking to see how poor you are. They also ask about your household, living situation, and rent, to help decide how much SSI you will get.

This interview only happens for SSI. It does not happen for SSDI. Here’s how to tell: What’s The Difference Between SSI and SSDI?

Are You REALLY Having an SSI Interview?

Before reading this article, it’s a good idea to double check that you are actually having an SSI interview. That way you won’t read the whole page for no reason!

🌟 If you are already on SSI, and you received a letter for an upcoming phone appointment, the answer is probably yes. Very likely this is an SSI interview. The letter might also say “SSI Redetermination” or might ask you for information on your finances or rent.

🌟 If you recently applied for disability or recently got approved, and you received a letter for an upcoming phone appointment, the answer is probably yes. Very likely this is an SSI interview. The letter might also say “Supplemental Security Income” or “PERC” or “Pre-effectuation Review Contact”. It might say they are checking if you meet the “non-medical” or “non-disability” requirements.

🌟 If your letter doesn’t indicate that this is an SSI interview, there might contacting you for some other reason: Different kinds of Social Security Interviews.

🌟 It’s also a good idea to check and see if you’re actually applying for SSI. Sometimes people think they are applying for both SSI and SSDI, but the SSI part turns out to be meaningless. Again, you don’t want to learn all the SSI rules if you don’t have to! Am I Actually Applying For SSI?

🌟 If you first became disabled before age 22, and one parent is now deceased, retired or disabled, you may be applying for Disabled Adult Child benefits. Depending how high the benefit is, you may or may not also get some SSI. Pro tip: If at all possible, try to qualify for at least one month of SSI while the other benefits are processing, there are some special Medicaid rules that may benefit you ongoingly.

How The SSI Interview Happens

There are three ways an SSI interview can get started:

🌟 Social Security will contact you – They will probably send you a letter telling you when the interview is scheduled.

🌟 You can contact Social Security to apply – If you have not yet applied for disability, you can call them a schedule and interview to apply. Or you can apply online or through a lawyer.

🌟 You can contact Social Security to change your SSI check – If you are already on SSI, you can request a new SSI interview any time you want. Sometimes people call and request an appointment because they’ve had a change in income or living situation and they are requesting that their check be adjusted.

When The Interview Happens

🌟 When First Applying – If you apply in person at your local office, they will probably ask you these questions while you are there. If you apply online or through a lawyer, after you submit your application, you may be contacted for an SSI interview. It may happen a few weeks after you first apply, or it may not happen until after you are approved.

🌟 After Approval – The interview will happen shortly after you get your approval letter.

🌟 Ongoing – The SSI Interview will then repeat every few years. In some states, for mysterious reasons, it doesn’t happen every few years, or never happens! That’s the mystery of Social Security.

How The Interview Happens

🌟 It can happen by phone or in person. If they schedule you in person, and you would prefer phone, you can call your local office and request a phone interview instead.

What Happens At Your Interview?

An SSI Interview is questions about your finances and living situation. Here is a few tips it may be helpful to keep in mind:

🌟 There is no need to be nervous for an SSI interview. This interview is only about finances they will not be deciding your disability.

🌟 The person you are meeting has no power to decide if you are disabled, and will not be involved in that decision.

🌟 There are rumors that some interviewers may make a short note in your file about how you look or act during the interview. However, according to Magnolia this is rare and she’s never actually seen such a note.

🌟 You do not have to convince this person that you are in need. The person interviewing you is not giving you SSI because she likes you or feels sorry for you.

🌟 The interviewer is just collecting answers to financial questions. She is collecting information and typing it into the computer, so the computer can calculate your SSI amount.

🌟 It is best to be brief, clear and honest. She needs to get your answers and type them into the computer, so she can move on to the next person.

🌟 If you are feeling anxious before your interview, it may help you to try to feel compassion or understanding for your Social Security worker. Handling SSI interviews is not always the most fun job in the world. The person doing your interview may have to deal all day long with people who are either upset at them or frightened of them. Plus an endless amount of bureaucracy and paperwork.

What Will They Ask During the Interview?

Marriage, Boyfriends, and Girlfriends

🌟 If you live with your spouse, they will ask everything about your spouse’s income, savings and assets. Your spouse’s income will usually impact your SSI. This is called “Deeming” One common issue with married couples is Owning Two Cars

🌟 If you do not live with your spouse, they will not included your spouse’s finances. This is only if the separation is intended to be permanent.

🌟 They will sometimes ask questions about a boyfriend or girlfriend if you live together. These rules are called Holding Out as Married. If they determine you are holding out as married, they will include this person’s income and treat this person as if they were your spouse, even though you are not legally married.

Other People You Live With

🌟 If you are a parent applying for your disabled child, they will ask about your finances (only if child is under 18). They will only include parents who live in the home. This is called “Deeming

🌟 They will not ask about finances of other people you live with. They only care about spouses, parents of minor children, and sometimes boyfriends or girlfriends.  I Live with Other People. Does Their Money Count?

Resources and Savings

🌟 They will ask about your bank account and things you own. Resource limit is $2,000 for single people. $3,000 for married couples. Resource limit for children on SSI is more complicated: How Much is the SSI Resource Limit? 

🌟 They will look at all bank accounts that have your name on them and most other things you own. They don’t count one car, a house you live in, and ordinary household items. Resources only count at the end of the month and not everything counts as a resource: What Counts as a Resource for SSI?

🌟 Some people run into problems if they have too much savings or own too many cars or other things of value. If this is your situation, there are some special regulations and policies that may help you to know: If You Are Over the SSI Resource Limit

Income and Gifts

🌟 They will ask about your income from work or other sources. If you are working and would like to learn more: How Working Impact SSI.

🌟 They won’t count as income: any loans, many forms of student financial aid, food stamps, housing vouchers, gifts into an ABLE account or Special Needs Trust, most types of government assistance and some other things: How You Can (and can’t) Make Money While on SSI

🌟 If you live with your spouse, they will not count any money or gifts your spouse gives you, or if your spouse pays your bills. (Your spouse’s income has already been included on your SSI case)

🌟 They will ask if anyone else has been giving you money or helping pay your rent, food, or utilities. If anyone else has given you these things, it’s important to let Social Security know if the money was a loan or a gift. More on: Loans from Friends or Family and valid loan agreements.

🌟 They won’t ask about non-cash gifts that are ordinary household items. They will not care about gifts such as books, clothes, electronics, furniture, medical supplies, etc. Some other types of gifts also won’t count. How You Can (and can’t) Get Gifts on SSI

🌟 Some people run into problems if they have too much income. If this is your situation, there are some special regulations and policies that may help you to know: How Will Income Effect My SSI Check?

Household Bills

🌟 If you live with your spouse, they will not care if your spouse pays your bills. (Your spouse’s income has already been included on your SSI case)

🌟 They will ask if anyone else is giving you a free place to stay, or free rent, food, or utilities. A live-in spouse doesn’t count. If anyone else has given you these things, it’s important to let Social Security know if you have made an agreement to pay this back: rental loan agreements.

🌟 They will ask how much rent you pay or how much mortgage you pay. If you have a landlord, they may inquire if your landlord is charging you the same amount as they would charge any other tenant.

🌟 If you live with other people, they will check to see if you are paying your fair share of the rent or mortgage and utilities. They have a formula for deciding your fair share: How Much Rent to Pay on SSI

🌟 They won’t ask if anyone is paying your other bills (as long as no money went directly to you). They only care if someone pays rent, food, utilities. They do not care who pays phone, internet, car insurance, medical bills, etc. I’m On SSI. Can a Person or Program Pay My Bills?

Does anything else happen during the interview?

Most SSI interviews are just questions about your finances and living arrangements. However there are a few circumstances where you will be asked other questions during the interview:

🌟 If you were recently approved, they may ask you questions to see if you need a representative payee, or to see who you would like to have appointed as your payee. This most often happens if you were approved for mental health or cognitive problems. A representative payee is someone who will handle your disability money.

🌟 If you are starting a brand new application and you have not yet submitted anything to Social Security, then during your interview the Social Security worker will help you fill out all the forms so that you can apply. They will ask many more questions about your work history, medical history, and doctors.

Try Not to Freak Out (Too Much)

A lot of people get very stressed about their first SSI interview. It may be helpful to know that if your interview doesn’t go well, you can always request another one! You can request an unlimited number. Examples:

🌷 Jane gets turned down for SSI because she had $100 too much in her bank account. Then she pays her rent and buys groceries. Next month, she requests a new SSI interview and brings her bank account information and receipts for how the money was spent. The SSI worker finds she is under the limit and Jane gets approved.

🌷 John gets turned down for SSI because he owns two cars. Later that month, John sells one of his cars and pays off his medical bills. He requests another SSI interview and shows receipts for how he sold the car and spent the money. He also brings proof that he sold the car at fair market rate and did not try to give it away. The SSI worker finds he is under the limit and John gets approved.

🌷 Sally gets turned down for SSI because she doesn’t realize she is supposed to tell her worker that her husband lives elsewhere. The next week she requests a new appointment, and brings copies of her husband’s lease, driver’s license, and utility bills. The SSI worker removes her husband’s income and Sally gets approved.

🌷 Jake applies for his child and gets turned down because he had been saving money for his child’s college. The next day, Jake opens an ABLE account for his child and places the college savings in the account. Jake requests a new SSI interview and brings copies of the ABLE account statements. The SSI worker excludes the ABLE account and Jake’s son gets approved.

If your SSI gets turned down, it’s a good idea to learn some of the rules so you can see what your options are: How to Stay Out of Hot Water with SSI

Common Problems

🌟 The most common problem people have at SSI interviews are issues around rent, food and utilities. All of these things can make an SSI check go up or down.

🌟 If you are a parent of a minor child who is disabled, when your child turns 18, the SSI rules for rent, food and utilities will start to apply. For example: Suzy lives with her parents. When she turns 18, she begins using her SSI to pay her parent’s rent for the room she is living in. She also pays for her own food and her part of the utilities. Her SSI check is not reduced.

🌟 Some people wind up getting a reduced check when they are first approved, and then the check stays lowered…. for five or ten years. This happens because people do not know that when they change their arrangements they can get their check reassessed. Or it happens because they do know, but they are too scared, intimidated or confused to try to navigate the process.

🌟 Another common problem is if you have income, and you reported your income, but Social Security did not lower your check when they were supposed to. This means they may want some money back! It probably won’t happen right during the interview, but they will send you a letter later saying you have an “overpayment.” If this happens learn more about: How To Respond When Social Security Tells You That You Owe Money Back

🌟 Another problem that sometimes happens is Social Security discovers something they did not know about your living arrangement. For example, they discover you have not been paying rent, or you are not paying your full share of the rent, or you moved in with a boyfriend or girlfriend in a marriage-like arrangement. All of these things can make your check lower and also may mean you owe money back.

🌟 It can also go the other way! They may also discover something that makes your check higher. For example, you separated from your spouse or you started paying rent.


🌟 A final common problem people have is a mistake being made on their SSI case.There are a lot of complex SSI rules and the people who do the SSI interviews do not always know them all. It is possible you will know a rule that they do not know.

🌟 If this happens, you may need to be firm and repeat yourself or ask to speak to a supervisor who does know the policies. You can also try some of these What to Say When Someone Tells You “No” or “Not Possible” or “You Don’t Qualify”

🌟 If you know a rule, print it out and bring it with you to show them. Sometimes you may know more than the person interviewing you.

🌟 If they send you a written decision that is incorrect, you can always appeal. Be sure to appeal in writing and don’t miss the deadline. You can also go back and request another interview (but it is still good not to miss the deadline for written appeal). It can also be incredibly helpful to try contacting your congressperson.

Here’s two examples we recently heard from readers:

“I told the interviewer that the rent money my friend had given me was a loan and showed her that we had a loan agreement. The interviewer did not know the policies about loan agreements, so she counted it as a gift and lowered my SSI backpay check. I had to go into the office and meet with a supervisor to straighten it out and raise the check.”

“I told the interviewer that we planned to use our daughter’s SSI to pay her share of the rent. The interviewer did not apply the correct rent policy and lowered her SSI check as if she were getting free rent. I went back and met with a different worker to fix the problem.”

Learn More

🌟 If you are applying or recently approved, take a look here: How to Apply for SSI Without Falling into Quicksand.

🌟 If you are already receiving SSI, take a look here: How to Stay Out of Hot Water with SSI

🌷 If you are feeling confused or you are being told conflicting information, there’s a very good chance this is happening because someone is mixing up the resource room with the income rules. Totally different rules! How to Tell the Difference Between the Income and Resource Rules

🌷 It’s also possible someone is mixing up the SSI rules with the SSDI rules. Also totally different rules! How to Tell Understand the Difference Between SSI and SSDI

🌷 It’s not easy to get by financially on SSI. But it’s totally possible! How to Survive on SSI

🌷 If you are starting a new application and would like to take extra steps to try to get approved quickly, check out: How to Get Approved for Disability The First Time You Apply

🌷 If you were recently approved, check out: Everything No One Ever Tells You After You Get Approved for Disability

71 thoughts on “How to Handle an SSI Interview”

  1. Thank you for this comprehensive wisdom. This is the first time I have managed my own funds since getting SSI …… had a representative payee for all of these years. Now he is too old and so am I, so in the interview to change payees they asked me if I felt I could manage on my own, and I have for all of this plague year. I did not know I was to have an interview so I did not make up a ledger, just used the bank for that, like always. I was scared about it, but my former rep is past caring, being non compos mentos himself now, at 95. Thanks to you, I think I can do this interview and sail away home free. Bless your work, I am sure you know how valuable you are.


  2. Hi thank you sooo much for all of this great advice. I am approved for ssdi but now have my ssi interview to deal with. I wanted to know some clarification about the rule you said regarding bank account balance at the end of the month. I have no income but recieve family help and my bills are higher than the 2k limit. I never have that amount in my bank only when rent is due. How do I handle this so I am not disqualified? What do I need to show at interview? Also the family member who had been helping won’t be able to continue now that he’s retired. Do I need a loan agreement or letter or something regarding that?


  3. My wife was approved for SSI in November, she had her initial financial interview then. We just received notice they are reviewing us again and she has a financial interview a week from now. Is this normal? To be reviewed only three months later? I’m not sure what they’re looking for, or is this just random?


    1. Typically, it is done yearly. I am not sure why they are requesting to meet earlier, perhaps there was some additional information that didn’t get addressed in the last interview.


      1. Thanks for replying. I have no idea what they’d want since they just received all our info. My wife does have an ABLE account, but they told us about it and we already supplied them with all the information on it when they asked at the beginning. I think our case is very straightforward otherwise so we’re both feeling a little confused an anxious about it all. It took her years to get approved.


  4. I just want to reach out and thank everyone on this site for all the work you do to help others. Your guides have been a lifesaver for me.


    1. I just had my perk call today. And was told to expect a check for October which will be paper. But couldn’t tell me the amount I’m getting. She said by the end of day the process will be done. Maybe I’m freaking out but do they move this fast after a perk call interview? I haven’t received a award letter yet either. Can anyone relate to this scenario with supplemental disability


        1. I applied back in March. Before even getting an approval letter my worker called and didnt a questionnaire about finances and my living arrangement than stated I was approved for SSI. That I’ll receive payment back too April. She said they were sending me a paper check and direct Express card for my monthly payments.. would the paper check be my back pay then? Im so confused lol


            1. Any idea how long it’ll be until I get an approval letter? I didn’t understand all of what she was saying and was afraid to ask. I didnt even know I was approved or anything until after she asked a bunch of questions about my finances and housing. I asked so what does this mean? Where she explained I was approved for SSI and would receive back pay from April and monthly checks. That my first check will be paper the rest on a direct Express card. 🤔 after realizing I had questions I tried the 1800 number to which they said they couldn’t even see I was approved yet 🙄 this article seriously helped me through my entire process. I was approved with my initial claim thanks to a lot of medical backing.


      1. I just had my perk too! She told me they’re sending a paper check after getting my info from DHS. She called today and said they got that and are releasing my funds. So yes it does go quickly now. Now its waiting for award letter, my card, and the paper check.


      2. I need help. I really messed up my interview. I just got approved for SSI. – my interview I was asked about income. I have none, but my son helped me 3 or 4 times with rent and expenses. They applied that to ALL back pay months. I used my savings for majority of wait time. My son expects to be paid back but ssi is only giving me 41.00 per month with their incorrect calculations. What do I do?


        1. Hi Marnie,

          You can submit a request for reconsideration form, to ask that your backpay amount be reconsidered.

          Attach any proof you have of your finances. A few things that might help to keep in mind:

          1. if you had savings, any month where you were over the asset limit you will get $0 in SSI. Asset limit for a single person is $2,000.

          2. If your son gave you a loan, they will likely want to see proof of a loan. Usually this means a written loan agreement that was signed before any money was given to you. However, technically they should accept any kind of loan agreement that is a valid contract according to your state laws (some states have laws for verbal contracts). If you don’t have a loan agreement signed before the money was given, you can still try proving your agreement is valid according to state laws, if you want, may take some appeals.

          3. You might want to enclose a list of which months he did or did not give you assistance, along with bank statements if it went in your bank account.

          Hope this helps.


  5. I am wondering why SSI keeps interviewing me almost every single year. I live in Az. My hearing was May 2015 and I was approved by the judge that day.
    Has anyone else had that problem ?
    I showed massive amounts of my disability, I will never get better but I feel like its almost harassment. Every single year they want to get the same information.


  6. My mother gets SSI (as well as SS) and she lives with me. The social worker told her that because she lives with me, my income is included for determination of how much SSI she gets and she got hers reduced. Is this right? I live in California.


    1. The worker was confused.

      However, if you are giving her free or reduced rent, food or utilities, that would change her SSI.

      As long as you do not share a bank account, they will not ask about your income.


  7. Hello,

    Thank you so much for this whole website, the information on here is so helpful for navigating this really complicated process. I had a question I was wondering if you might know the answer to. My Mom recently filed for disability and was approved fairly quickly, about 2 months from filing. Her SSDI, however, is low as she has worked a low-wage job before becoming disabled. She had an interview for SSI as she has very limited resources. The worker conducting the interview said that SSI determination is pretty quick and takes maybe about a week, but it’s been almost 3 weeks and Mom still hasn’t heard back. Should we be concerned/ is that a bad sign? The “MySocial Security” website says the SSI application is still in process. I don’t think we’d be worried if the lady hadn’t brought up the 1 week ballpark.

    Thank you in advance!


  8. Hi, I wrote to you on another post, my sons letter reads, “you may be found to be medically disabled for SSI benefits.” Letter said he needs to be interviewed to see if eligible for payments. He was only asked to bring rental agreement. Is it possible he was approved? Also, we will have an agreement drafted with the breakdown of his share. Utilities etc. Should it say to begin once he has been approved?


  9. I applied for SSI for my son a few weeks ago. I got a letter today that says disability benefits have been approved and they determined he meets the medical requirements to receive SSI benefits. It asks that I call to schedule a review. They would like to review income, resources, and living arrangements. My concern in the living arrangements.
    My boyfriend (not my son’s father) live together. My disabled mother also lives with us. So we split everything 3 ways. Rent, Utilities, water/garbage, internet..
    I have my rental/car ins, cell phone, and any expenses for my son.
    My boyfriend pays his child support, car ins, cell phone
    My mom pays her cell phone

    We are boyfriend and girlfriend but will this count against me for getting my sons SSI?


    1. HI Hope,

      I’m not certain how they will decide this.

      There are two issues that could come up.

      One is that everything is being split three ways instead of four ways. This means someone else is paying part of your child’s share, which may cause a small reduction. It could be adjusted later if the situation changes.

      The other issue is whether they will ask questions to determine if you and your boyfriend are holding out as married. This could have a major impact on an SSI check, since they will count the other person’s entire income and assets. These are the questions they ask to make the decision. Hope this helps:

      In most situations, they only look at rent, food and utilities, not car insurance and cell phones.

      I hope it goes well for you.


  10. Hello again ,
    I posted a few weeks back, and now today I’m supposed to have the ssi perc interview via phone in a few hours. I’m extremely nervous, as I hope I don’t stumble during the interview.
    Yesterday I opened a checking account, with a 40$ loan from my mother (they required 25 to open just a checking account). I haven’t had a bank account in over 6 years, and both my attorneys office and the social security office folks told me I should have an account before my interview. The reason I’ve spoken to the SS folks was because the social security worker left a voicemail on September 20, saying I “missed an interview” and that she would “resend” the notice regarding my new appointment date (scheduled for today).
    Now, I received the notice regarding today’s appointment on Monday. Today is Thursday. Secondly, I never had an appointment to my knowledge nor have I received anything prior to this notice regarding today’s interview. I noticed a missed call, back on September 20, panicked after hearing that voicemail and called right back. I was unable to reach the woman who called but was able to get her name and her extension. The people in the local ss office (who answered the phone in local office) all said it’s probably Mrs. So and so because she’s the only one who handles cases that went to hearings level (my fully favorable was dated Aug 28 by ALJ). They also told me it’s possible NO letter or appt was ever sent out and she may have had a free moment therefore called me that day. I did try to reach her, left vm, was polite, said I received her voicemail etc but she hasn’t called back. The social security office told me she’ll probably just call on the scheduled date which is today. I honestly felt I did something wrong, but nothing came in the mail prior to this notice regarding today. In it she said she’d be calling to discuss ssi benefits.

    Question, is it a bad thing if there’s 40$ in my brand new account? I’m also wondering exactly what to say regarding the rental agreement I have with my mother. Of course I’ll be honest, but my rental loan agreement with my mom goes back approximately 2 years. The lawyer suggested I state that I pay 350 to my mom for myself and my young daughter. That’s less than half of what my mother pays for rent and utilities which she’s covered for the past couple of years, but rent was raised this year, thereby she honestly can’t cover it anymore. I don’t know why the attorney said to say 350. Personally I feel like it should be approx half, as you initially suggested. But, I don’t want to “count my chickens before they hatch”.
    Lastly, how long does it actually take to receive anything? The lawyer said it goes back to Dec 2015. Asking’s getting harder by the moment to survive.
    Please advise… my apologies for the lengthy message. Extremely nervous..
    Thanking you in advance.


    1. Hi stargazer,

      I hope your interview goes great.

      The $40 loan should be no problem. I think you did the right thing by opening a bank account. That will make your life easier.

      I would not worry about the missed appointment, sounds like it is straightened out now.

      For the past: They will use whatever number was agreed upon before the loan started and got written down in the agreement. There is a chance that may only accept the agreement if it was signed and dated before the loan started, but laws on valid loan contracts varies by state.

      For the future: The amount of rent you pay will affect your future check. You can show SSA a written, signed agreement with your mom, or if your name is on the lease show them that. If two people live there, the simplest way is just pay half.

      Congrats on getting approved. Hope it goes really well. 💕💕🌷


  11. Hi,
    do you know how SSA checks to see income? i.e. what kind of paperwork I need? i have my tax return form. is that enough? i don’t get bank statements anymore and online is only 2 months back. Do they go into your bank account do you know?
    Thanks so much for this incredible website! wish i’d found it earlier!


    1. Hi May,

      I’m sorry I don’t know the answer to this. I believe they can access your bank account info. They usually request pay stubs if possible. I would say to just bring any documentation you are able to and they will let you know if something more is needed. I hope it goes well for you.


  12. Hi and thank you for all of this information. My Ex-husband is living with me since he became disabled 11 months ago. He applied for ssdi, work history and such. They sent him a denial letter for ssi because he hadn’t applied. So he applied, a couple of weeks later he received some type of correspondence about a phone interview. He called his lawyer and she said that was normal and used the term per. The wanted proof that he received TANF as he has custody of his daughter. Long story as short as possible, the lawyer call SSA and they said they are now processing both SSI and SSDI together. He is 56 and has worked since he was 15. When and where do I find out when this man will receive a check. Also, the mother of his child owes a lot of past child support, they were never married, and has a hearing as well for SSDI. Will they automatically take the back child support from her back pay?


    1. It is kind of you to let him live with you. He has to get approved before he will start collecting a check. I couldn’t tell from your post if he has been approved yet.

      They often do take child-support out of backpack. It will depend if she is applying for SSI or SSDI. I don’t know the regulations for when they follow through on garnishing child support. He might try asking TANF about this – they can be involved in child support collection.


      1. Hi,
        I got a letter from SSI, saying I received a favorable decision on disability and they set up an in person appointment. At which time I need to bring in bank statements, rent, utilities, etc…
        My son and I are currently living with my parents. I receive $600 a month in child support, which is my only form of any income. I pay for my own car insurance and mine and my son’s cell phones. We receive a small amount of snap (food stamps) and Medicaid from the state. I buy additional food and my son’s needs. I don’t have a written lease or pay my parents rent or utilities for lack of funds. How will this affect my SSI amount if I have no proof of living expenses? I was hoping that with my disability I could get myself and my son a place, but if they give me little to no SSI because I don’t currently pay rent or utilities, I will never be able to move.


    1. Hi Amber,

      Yes, I think most people on SSI set up some kind of signed lease agreement and pay rent every month by check. It is usually an agreement with the property owner, but it could be a sublet if that works better for you.

      Having a lease and paying by check will help you have documentation in case social security ever asks for proof that you are covering your own living expenses.

      Also, they may look to see that utilities are either be included in the lease or you are paying your half directly to the utility company.

      Social Security may look to see that the amount of rent you pay is roughly fair market value (similar to what other landlords in your area would charge to someone renting a room in a house)

      It might help you to also take a look above at the “holding out as married” regs, as these questions could come up in the future if your SSI is reassessed.

      Hope it goes great for you.


        1. Oh yes, I think CA max is 910. I don’t know what was lowering your check, but if it was rent, a rental agreement might change how your case is calculated. The questions about holding out as married may come up at the interview so you can take a look to get a sense of what they might ask. Hope it goes great for you.


  13. Hi, I have (hopefully) a quick question. I just started receiving ssi and live alone with my boyfriend in a house that his dad owns. My bf and his dad don’t have an official rental agreement and my bf makes “rental” payments straight to the mortgage company. I was wondering if I should have a sublease between me and my bf or just tell social security I am paying my part of the mortgage? Thank you for your help, what you are doing here is amazing.


    1. Hi amber,

      Do you know if they are considering you and your boyfriend as “holding out as married?” there is a more info on that above. Are they counting your boyfriend’s income as if he were a husband? Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t…


  14. My SSDI is around 680 a month.
    The medication change was after years of the same medication, with it’s effectiveness pretty much gone.
    When you’re at the mercy of free clinics, you do what you can with what is given to you. I’m not discouraging anyone from free clinics, you just do what you can.

    My award letter says 5-7 years for the, not sure what you call it. Part of my problem, better in the morning with memory.

    No financial interview yet. Was wondering if anyone knows the timeframe for that..
    Thanks again for all you do!


    1. Ok, it sounds like you will be eligible for SSI and Medicaid which is great.

      If I were you, I would call local Social Security office and ask to schedule an appointment for an SSI determination. It can be in person or on the phone appointment.

      If you are in dire financial or medical need, you can also contact your congressperson’s office and they can help speed up the process for you

      Your land and camper shouldn’t count against SSI or medicaid because you are living there and they do not count a dwelling you live in…. however, if you move out they would start to count, unless you sell them and do something else allowable with the money.

      I hope it goes great for you.


  15. First of all, thank you so much for your site/blog, EVERYTHING!
    This is a wealth of information,and it’s much appreciated.
    A little about me: After suggestions from my therapist, trying to work and failing, and 3 years of being a burden on my family, I applied for SSDI.
    I went through the test, doctors visits, and was actually glad for them. I could have never gotten these test on my own.
    6 months go by, and I heard nothing. But thanks to the test, I was given proper medications, and feel better.
    Imagine my surprise when I was approved on 6/26/18.
    My SSI remains unchanged from the “processing” stage on 6/27. SSI is extremely important to me because of medicaid. I have no medical insurance, and have to depend on family for medications, etc.
    Does anyone know how long it takes to be approved for SSI after being approved for SSDI?
    I live in a camper, have no assets other than my old car and my lot my camper sits on. My son has paid for all my needs for over a year. He doesn’t live with me.


    1. hi jo,

      Congrats on your approval.

      have you had an SSI financial interview yet?

      do you know how high your SSDI will be? If it is too high you won’t get SSI, but you may have some other options to get medicaid.

      I also wanted to mention that if your recent medical records say you are feeling better there is a chance this will impact your case when you come up for disability review – social security may not have seen your most recent records yet. I am glad you are doing better.


  16. Hello,

    I want to thank you for one of the most informative website’s as it relates to Social Security Disability. I just want to encourage anyone going through this process to educate themselves with as much information as possible from reliable sources! There are so many untruths about how this system works it can become quite overwhelming leading to things such as anxiety, depressio, and even the feeling of hopelessness. I prayed a lot for strength and was ecstatic to find others experiencing some of the same issues I was having. After many exhaustking years I was found Fully Favorable by the ALJ . I’m still moving forward with what feels like step ONE to a least began living the best life I can with what I’ve been given to work with. I have no questions, no doubts about how the Social Security Administration works now because not only did I educate myself, I’m actually going through it! and I must say it is both complexed and intricate .
    Again thank you so much for your awesome website and insitefull plain and simple answers to many of the questions that we have about going through this process .
    Sleepygirl keep bringing them BONES and keeping all the Newbies educated about what to expect when going through this RED TAPED process!


  17. Hi! I was recently approved for benefits. I’ve not gotten my approval letter and the website still says pending. I have a few questions and TRULY appreciate your feedback.

    •How long does it usually take to get the approval letter and benefits to begin?

    •I have no income and am worried about losing my car etc , which I desperately need to get to medical treatment and maintain independence. Is this something I can get help with or expedite the process? I’m struggling to meet everyday needs, though local pantries and organizations help a little there’s still a major gap 😦

    •when I first applied, I was receiving child support and possibly unemployment. My rent & expenses were less. Since then, I’ve not been receiving support and expenses have increased (I moved closer to the hospital/med treatment). I rcv some government help (not cash) to get by.

    I asked my lawyer how to report the changes and she said it’s irrelevant that I don’t need to report. but I applied for SSDI and SSI Disability. I thought income is important… is support not counted? If it would be helpful how do I report changes?

    Thank you


  18. I have filled out all my SSDI and SSI applications (both online and on paper). I had an SSI phone interview scheduled for today, between 1:20 and 2:20 PM. I got someone else to do my 1 hour of work for the day, and have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting. It is now 3:45 and no call. I had a previous phone interview scheduled in May that SS canceled without even notifying me (after I had again given away my 1 hour of work for the day). How long am I supposed to wait?? Afraid to call and get in the long hold line, as I’m really not good at switching calls when a new call come thru. This is so frustrating! I will call tomorrow if the call doesn’t come today by 5PM… Also, just a helpful tip, I unfortunately had to learn last week – my actual paper forms had to be received BY MAY 30th, according to a letter I received. I overnighted my packet of forms, and had evidence it had arrived the morning of May 30th. I then received a letter, dated May 30th, stating I was denied SSDI, due to my forms not being in. When I was finally able to get my caseworker on the phone, she informed me that altho my forms had been IN THE BUILDING by May 30th, she had not received them on her desk until June 1st. She reprimanded me that I had waited til the last minute, and forms should be in BEFORE the due date. However, my letter had NOT said “BEFORE MAY 30th”, it had clearly stated “BY MAY 30th”. She begrudgingly re-opened my case 7 days later. Perhaps, she’s the one who was supposed to call me today? Does the same caseworker handle your SSDI AND SSI cases? Sorry, so long, just felt it was important folks be forewarned of these issues. Thnk you for your site, it gave me so much more confidence when filling out all my forms.


    1. Thank you for this post to help others. I hope you were able to get through. If you call your local office (not national number) wait may be shorter, but it depends on the area.


  19. Hi there. I was just directed to this article, and I have a question!
    I have phone interview coming up on Thursday next week where a woman told me she was going to ask about my resources, my living situation etc.

    I’ve been on ssi since I was 16 (I’m 31 now) for mental and emotional health reasons. I live with my boyfriend of 2 years. We have the intention of someday being married but we won’t be doing so for probably another 15 years. He is still married to his ex and pays her child support, and she won’t cooperate with divorce or anything else.

    We don’t hold ourselves out as a married couple, just as boyfriend and girlfriend. I pay the rent using my SSI and some utilities and groceries here and there. He pitches in too, since we live together.

    I’m terrified I’m going to lose my full SSI amount. I just got done with an approved CDR, I really don’t want MORE stress that they’re obviously very willing to provide!

    What do you think will happen?


    1. If they are unable to manage money, SSA will assign a “representative payee”

      The rep payee will handle their money and answer SSI questions.

      For children, in most cases, the rep payee is a parent. But it could also be another family member, a friend, or an agency.


  20. Ah, it seems that *this* letter says nothing about a CDR; the letter they sent out for a prior telephone interview (that I missed due to being out of town-yes, I notified them but was it noted?) did.

    Is it possible that some field offices are just more ‘active’ than others? The question is, would I be more stressed out being homeless than dealing with this constant threat? Every time I hear from them, it makes me retract whatever roots I have sent out trying to connect to my new and improved community.

    Living in fear is not good for anyone.


    1. Hi cookie,

      I totally understand. I think the stress is hard for everyone.

      I am not sure what this letter is about, but if they called you in the past about your retirement, perhaps it is just some follow up questions about that.

      I don’t think you need to worry, if it was any kind of bad news they would tell you in a letter not a phone call.

      They may just need some more info about something from you. If they ask you anything you don’t understand or if you don’t feel sure about the answer, you don’t have to answer in the moment, you can ask for some time to find the answer for them or ask if they can send you the question in writing.

      I hope it goes well for you ❤


  21. My situation is the same as Bonnie Lou’s, but my letter for the upcoming phone interview says something about a CDR.

    No requests to have any records on hand.

    What do they want?


  22. Hi, I have received a letter from SSA stating that they needed information from me to make sure that I am still eligible for SSI Benefits and want to talk to me, by phone call; on this scheduled date and time. The letter does not state the type of information they want to ask me about. It goes on saying that if I can’t keep my phone appointment, to call them and another appointment will be made. However, I will be keeping the upcoming appt. scheduled in a 4 days. So my question is: What information is needed to make sure I am still eligible for SSI. I would think that (SSA) would inform me of the type of information they’re needing so that I can prepare myself to have all the resources, documents, names, addresses, dates and times, etc. with me at the time of my phone interview review. PLEASE REPLY ASAP, THANK-YOU!


  23. Hi.

    I was approved for SSDI and have a PERC phone meeting 2/28. I live in HUD housing where my rent is based off my income. My spouse suffered an injury and put on FMLA in 2016 then lost her job in the beginning of 2017. Our rent is adjusted based off what we receive (30 percent of income with utilities covered), so since losing her job, we notified the housing program through the city which we live and rec. the HUD housing through. Would this affect my SSI payment?


    1. Hi Ivan,

      A change in your HUD rent shouldn’t have any impact.

      SSI and SSDI are different.

      If you were applying for SSDI, then the PERC interview won’t matter very much.

      If you were applying for SSI, then your spouse’s income changing can cause your SSI check to go up or down.

      Congrats on your approval 🙂


  24. Hi. Thank you so much for such an informative website. I have 2 questions please. I had an interview for redetermination for Ssi on the 25th January. The letter stated I needed have ready documentation for years 2016-2018. I called, 4x left messages at local office(that’s the reschedule number on the letter) to reschedule but never received a call to reschedule my appointment. I have been trying to call them back but no answer. I kept my appointment coz I didn’t want to get in trouble. How can they offer you a choice to reschedule and not make available someone to help reschedule your appointment? How does that work exactly?
    Next, I’ll try to be brief and precise with this part. During the interview the interviewer Maria, reminded me when I was 62 to collect my Ex husbands SS that it was a huge sum and I would want to get it. But I know this already.
    Then she asked me how come I don’t get alimony? I responded with, I just didn’t, I got child support. She kept on about how baffled and interesting it was about me not getting alimony. I got child support.
    I have been divorced 19 years. Separated an additional 6 years for a total of 25 years.( I was fortunate to get his ss benefit for long term marriage at 10 years) but I didn’t say that part to her. She also made remarks about my work history in 2006.
    Maria went on to ask finance questions. She asked me about rent. I told her there’s no rent, the house is paid off. Maria then said, So your ex husband paid the house off? I said No. She went on to say, then why is Adam paying you rent? You said in 2006 Adam pays you rent. Ummm. I was confused at this point. She then said, We have ways of getting correct information. I felt intimidated and confused, at this point. They have all my information.
    I have been reviewed every year for past 13 years; every year I comply to a review. I moved approximately 4 years ago to my current home, it is paid off. I pay expenses of the home such as taxes , food, utilities etc and live alone. I have had to report this in past reviews. Wouldn’t that information be in my records? Why would Maria be going back 13 years when my review letter says 2016-2018? Why would she say they have ways of getting correct information? I had to correct her during the interview cos she was saying things that were not true. Making a story up when I answered her questions.
    She abruptly ended the interview saying, interview has ended, after I corrected her version of what I didn’t say. I didn’t question her as to why she was reflecting on 2006 when it’s 2018. She took me by surprise. Now I have had a few days to think about it, It was like she was asking financial questions for 2018 but applying 2006 to her questions. Can they do that? I’m super nervous about this, do I need to be? What do I say if I call them? They have reviewed me every year to present. I don’t know how to approach this and am stressing out over it. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Does Maria make the determination as to if I continue to get benefits? Are you as confused as I’m? Am I in trouble? Do I wait for the redetermination letter?
    Thankful for anyone who can help me as to what I need to do ASAP.


    1. Hi Ann,

      I am sorry to hear this happened.

      I do not think you are in any trouble. You could just wait and see what the redetermination says because if you were clear about your current circumstances it is probably fine.

      Another option would be putting in a complaint – to create a paper trail so you have a record of what happened, and also to help the situation so that she cannot treat other people this way in the future.

      I recently asked someone who used to work at SSA what someone can do if a problem comes up. Here is what she said.

      Hope this helps:

      “There is never anything wrong with asking the name of the employee ‘s supervisor if you feel you are not being properly treated, or the employee isn’t able to explain the situation in a way you can easily understand.

      “You may always ask for the name of the supervisor and Field Office Manager.

      “They should give you that immediately. If you get no satisfaction there, there is an organization chart on the SSA website that shows that Field Offices answer to an Area Director, then to a Regional Office, etc.

      “However, I would suggest that if you get nowhere with a supervisor or manager, contact your Congressman ‘s Office. All SSA Offices are under the gun to respond as quickly as possible when a Congressman inquires on behalf of their constituency.”


  25. I get SSI for my autistic son. At first I was reporting all income. Then I lost my job and called and reported it. I used to watch my now husband’s kids so what my son’s check didn’t pay, he helped with. We moved into a place together and got married. Out income level basically stayed same but I called and reported a change of address and phone number. I also updated it on my payee report. Which they must have had this info bc my payee report came here. Well… Today I received a letter stating I had a phone interview over a week ago, that was forwarded here. So that explains the missed apt. I need to call tomorrow. Can I get into trouble if they never updated this info??


    1. Hi Dani,

      I think if you call them tomorrow and let them know that you didn’t get the letter in time, I hope they will be able to give you another appointment.

      If your new husband has income or savings or if you both have a car, that may affect your son’s SSI. I hope it goes well for you.


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