Guest Bloggers, SSI, Supporting Our Most Vulnerable

Homelessness and Social Security

May 6, 2021 • By

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.


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  1. Ruby

    I receive ssdi and homeless using a friends address to get my mail but the landlord took me off lease cause my daughter stole my half of rent money and after I left she called him back to get rent and had locks changed and she packed my stuff that she wanted me to have and I got it and left I was so upset later found out it’s illegal and I can go back but I can’t live somewhere with people going through my things and stealing from me I just don’t believe this happened and I have major depression and bipolar she took my medication and I just feel loss and don’t know what to do I can’t find housing I can afford please help me

    Reply
  2. Lisa G

    I am homeless and just wanted food stamps. Arkansas cut my stamps because I bought my groceries across the state line in Missouri! I had disclosed all to my case worker. Because I purchased groceries in the state that borders 8 miles from where I was staying (in a off the grid deer trailer I had managed to rent they cut me off totally and were determined I was not getting stamps. So I had to give up my bed return to the auto with my mentally handicapped 24 year old daughter. Now we are broke and without money for food. The 2 of us live on my disability because I don’t have hers approved yet. I tried but no avail. The system is broken to help homeless and sick. With both of us my copays to see my doctors is $40 & that is with extra help. If I have to have surgery I have to come up with close to $1,500 to have the surgery’s I need. So we do with medical care & do the best we can with $1250 income total. LOL and a $600 auto payment, $275 a month auto insurance, then $3 plus diesel fuel well I think you see there is nothing left for food or cleaning our clothing or bodies unless we happen to catch a park with free bathrooms that we can shower also. And no one wants you in their office for medical care without a mask – I have copd, a compromised immune system from my severe PsA & sensory issues, my daughter has super severe sensory issues & asthma. I also strongly believe & so does her therapist that is his autistic.
    So we are sol ! We don’t fit any where but the streets! All this has been caused from a extremely ugly Divorce!
    And the judge was very cruel and one sided. Did not allow me legal legal representation nor did he allow me to present any evidence at all he stopped me from introducing anything into court. Also I have 77 college hours towards a 4 year degree in business management. I have no legal or medical training but I truly believe I have been taken total advantage of by the state of Arkansas & the Judge because of my situation. The judge evicted me from my own home April 1, 2021. Forced out while sick & taken to hospital via a ambulance against my will so my spouse could take control. So me and my handicapped daughter became homeless in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. So much fun. And everyone is scared of you, all state parks were closed, horrible winter, and the rest of the government officials were warm, had food, & are cool during the summer. They also have a place to wash them selves & their clothing. We had a camp fire, looked for $1 menus foods, most times I could & would run auto at dark & when sun shined would kinda keep warm without running engine. Cried a lot. Was cold a lot. Was hungry some. But we made it. I was actually kicked out and my rheumatologist refused to see me because I couldn’t wear a mask and I did not have the $40 co-pay fortunately I have been seeing my general practitioner since I was a child and he agreed to keep me in the medication I need until my situation improves at least he has a heart!

    Reply
  3. Jessica

    HOW DO
    I GET HELP!?? I’m stuck living in my ex husbands house because I can not even afford rent on a studio apt here in AZ!! I’m stuck in an abusive situation because I have NO CHOICE! I’ve been disabled since 2013 when I broke my back I will be having yet another surgery to now fuse my back from my pelvis to the fusion in the middle then from there up to my neck on May 25th, anyway, I can not seem to find any way out of this nightmare! Unless I take my kids and self to a Shelter!? thats just not possible!! How
    Do I GET help?!?! I’ve tried accessing everything I can find and I’m here going on 5 years of wait lists”?

    Reply
    • Rosie Vega

      I Know You Have It Hard I Went Through Same Thing Except Husband Part AWe Supposedly Overpaid On Food Stamps Lived On My Husbands Social $875.00 SDI But We Still Managed To Pay Mortgage Feed 7 kids Get My Bills Paid And Dress My Kids You Might Not Believe But God Does Miracles My Kids All Went To Top Private School By The Time They Graduated They Had College Degrees All I Did Was Find And Look Believe There Are People Out There Waiting To Help All in Jesus Name We’re Good Now This Happened In 1999 Accident At Work Broke My Back Now I’m Raising my 4 Grandchildren Parents Comited Suicide So Did 1 oldest Son In Wisconsin No Welfare In Illinois My 2 Oldest Grandsons That We’ve Raised Out 4 Have Graduates Now Got 2 Kids To Finish Raising We Are 64-67 But God Has Pulled Us Through We Are Now Down To $1,900.00To Finish Paying off Our House Ask And Ye Shall Recive By The Way We Live In Illinois And Never Gave Up God Does Miracles Believe

      Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Jessica, we are very sorry to hear about your situation. 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!

      Reply
      • Jessica

        NO, actually that DOESNT help!! I’ve tried those routes and I’ve applied for everything I can find on that site and I’ve still gotten no
        Help!? I get put on a 10 year waiting list!? I have NO CLUE what to
        Do anymore! No clue how to find help!? Those links just send you in circles!! I’ve been crying out for years and still here I am
        Stuck in the most horrible volatile situation ever!!

        Reply
  4. Bonnie

    This is crazy ..here in ky i have helped several individuals that has been denied and denied because of the board of drs they have that makes the decisions based off of there own colleagues that sees individuals that they know nothing about per ssa determinations board.just because someone is mentally deteration and is one way one moment and in the next moment a diffrent way they(the drs they send a client through) will determin in 5 min stating non coperiative and its not the case its because they need help not just told uncoperative and hey thats it and then they make a determination off of that .
    Lawyers that has cases they sit on them for years just for the back pay to accimilate then want yo take 33.3 percent of the back pay for nothing and the client sits with nothing for years at a time ….just stating a fact
    So they do have there rules ssa does they have there guidelines to what qualify as a disability
    This statement is not to step on toes but hey truth is truth so i hope my words help no i do not have lettering behind my name except Rn …but hey plain words are understood
    Thank you for reading

    Reply
    • BETTY GORDON, iowa

      i agree with you.

      the ssdi drs. NEVER see the claimant’s. they just read some of the medical documentation submitted!

      Reply
      • Rosie Vega

        Ask Ye Shall Recieved I Waited 5 Yrs But There Is Help Out There We Lived On A Income Of 876. 00 My Husband’s Disability 8 Kids Mortgage Kids Went To Private School Paid By Sponsors Graduationed With College Credits Now Am Raising 4 Of My Grandkids Which I Got Legal Custody Of I Started Got Hurt And Applied In 1999 Got Approved In 2003 I Got Charged With Supposedly Overpayment of Food Stamps Which I’m Still Paying For But I’m Am Paying It We Made It Now Only Owe $19,000. In Less Than 5yrs I Will Debt Free Except For Regular Bills All You Got To Do Is Take First Step Ask Ye Shall Receive There Are So Many People Ready To Help

        Reply
  5. Paula Sanborn

    The so called Pre. Bidden wants to help the people trying to get in this country, NO NO. Take care of your own first!!

    Reply
    • Pjshoemaker

      Amen take care of our problems first

      Reply
      • Rosie Vega

        AGREE 💯%

        Reply
  6. Jake R.

    In regards to SSDI application,
    I’ve struggled to find legal representation for my case.
    I am 49, a disabled veteran.
    That case went fine,
    I could use any input or guidance
    to my email.

    Thank you,

    Reply
    • Betty Gordon, Iowa lyme/bartonella aka cat scratch disease patient 52 yrs.

      jake and others,

      go to this wonderful, DETAILED facebook site on what to do to be APPROVED FOR SSDI !!

      i wished i would have had this info 15 years ago when i applied for my 1st one vs. 2nd one taking 5 years of hell/excess paperwork to do!!

      i WON my 2nd one representing myself WITHOUT LAWYER!!

      https://www.facebook.com/sleepygirlguide

      Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Jake, thanks for using our blog. Although every person has the right to be represented by an attorney or other representation while pursuing a claim, it doesn’t mean you must have one. For information about getting a representative, check out our publication “Your Right to Representation“. If you need help finding one, your local Social Security office can give you a list of legal referral services and non-profit organizations that either provide services free of charge or help you find a representative. To call your local Social Security office, look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

      Reply
  7. val barnes

    SSI?/SSDI clients should also be invited to write guest blogs. Thanks, val

    Reply
  8. val barnes

    I would like to be a guest blogger, How can I do that?

    Reply
  9. Dorothy M

    This is a good article but please provide contact information. There must be 800 numbers or what about 211? You are not providing resources, just information.

    Reply
  10. Terrance Denkins

    My name is Terrance Denkins and I need help….I get SSDI and I need a place to stay . . Where can I get help.. I’m in Houston, TX…. Please help I need immediate help.

    Reply
    • Ronn

      Terrence
      inntown suites Dallas San Antonio Houston
      Pay monthly
      Google it

      Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Terrance, thanks for using our blog. 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. We hope this helps!

      Reply

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