Homelessness and Social SecurityReading Time: 2 Minutes
Last Updated: May 18, 2021
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are lifelines for people experiencing homelessness. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2020 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report notes roughly 580,000 people are currently without a home and the National Alliance to End Homelessness found about 25-30 percent have severe physical and mental disabilities.
People who experience homelessness tend to age faster than people who have access to housing because of the stress of living on the street, poor nutrition, social isolation, and the effects of extreme weather and unsanitary conditions. They also often deal with substance use disorders along with severe health issues—including diabetes, heart disease, and HIV/AIDS.
The mental health disorders often also include cognitive problems that make understanding SSA’s terminology and process difficult to navigate. The standard process for applying for SSI and SSDI doesn’t work well for this population. Internet access proves virtually impossible. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made the struggle to apply for benefits worse.
Homelessness places limitations on a person’s communication with Social Security. Phone communication (including texts) presents difficulties—as does traditional mail. The limited options for contact and communication often lead to benefit application denial for technical reasons—such as not responding to mail and not keeping appointments. When this happens, individuals continue to re-apply as their health deteriorates and anxiety increases.
Third-party providers and organizations can help people experiencing homelessness navigate the SSI/SSDI process for faster benefit payment decisions. They can assist with taking their benefits applications and provide knowledgeable information and support to this underserved community. Third-party groups include:
- Legal Services providers.
- SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) trained staff.
- Health Care for the Homeless programs.
- Community trained case managers and social workers.
- Protection and Advocacy organizations in each state.
People experiencing homelessness can often start with contacting the Department of Social Services in their state to learn about other service providers who can help. Community behavioral health program providers may also assist homeless individuals to apply for benefits and submit medical information needed for decision-making.
Homelessness doesn’t have to be an ongoing condition for so many of our neighbors. Let’s work together to help those in need and ensure that those who are eligible are approved as early as possible in the process.
SSA’s posting of this blog does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of any non-SSA organization or author.
Tags: People Facing Barriers, SSI, supplemental security incomeSee Comments
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The only way that we may get through to people and the politicians is to show pictures of what we look like and for me it would be that I’m 62 5 feet 4 inches tall and weigh just about 100 pounds because food stamps that a single person gets only gets you one week of food and absolutely no money for food since we cannot even pay for the basic needs for living, but I believe that we should get a group of us showing the real suffering of day to day living for us and many of us had paid into the system for years and this is what we get and spread it all over Facebook, because the only way to get our message across is to shame the government and I know that it’s radical but better than wasting our breath complaining about it and nothing changes.
It has been months since the local field office decided to underhanded stop my payments for not submitting documents in a timely fashion. I was sick and homeless and have a child to take care of. I did submit the documents just a couple weeks late. But the field office lied saying they never got them. I submitted again. They lied again. I filed an appeal. They found the. But still didn’t restart payments. They issued an overpayment for PUA for $12,000. To a homeless disabled mother. Then when they found out they couldn’t issue that fir that period or reason they changed it. And still won’t restart payments or acknowledge the waivers I requested. The denied one waiver in September. But they don’t have the right to ignore good cause and undue hardship waiver requests. Not for homeless disabled mothers.
Hi Leah, thanks for using our blog. We apologize for the difficulties you are experiencing. Unfortunately, but for security reasons, we do not have access to personal records in this blog. Please continue to work with your local office for a resolution to your situation. Look for the general inquiry telephone number using our Social Security Office Locator link.
There is a person in their 50’s, had a SSCard and can not remember his number. How can he go about finding his Social Security Number.
Hi, Rosario. Please have him contact his local Social Security office for assistance. Look for the general inquiry telephone number under Show Additional Office Information.We hope this helps.
I’m in need of a home don’t know were to go ok I lost my boyfriend or Fiance he passed away and don’t have the money to live on my own I don’t make that much money by my self so I’m going to be out in the street soon what can I do were do I go to find a place to live now ? Help please ..
Hi Donna. We are sorry for your loss. Please visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services web page for the many programs and services available to you in your state. For information on public housing assistance visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website. We hope this helps!
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Yvonne M. Perret, MA, MSW, LCSW-C, Executive Director of the Advocacy and Training Center and primary founder of SOAR