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. Becca

    Let’s see, if they are wanting to raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hr….

    $15 times a 40 hour work week is $600
    That is $2,400 a month.

    If a 15 year old is worth that wage….

    Then Social Security benefits should START at that amount.

    Reply
  2. Victoria

    Happy for the lucky few, uh very few who are help in finding help, assistance in finding housing. I am in Texas I relocated closer to family 18months ago, had an apartment lined up. I wasn’t told until after I signed the lease and paid all the cost to get the apartment that they had assigned me an apartment 3 stories high. I suffer from back problems and had to back out of the lease. They kept my 1,000 dollars and threatened to make me pay for the broke lease. Got caught in the Pandemic and though I live with family, it been tough. I’ve told people in authority to help, my situation but was told I am not homeless bc I’m not living on the streets. I have many medical needs, dental needs & transportation needs aside from a place of my own. I consider myself homeless bc I had my own place, my own things, now I’m sleeping in a mattress on the floor. I’m having to pay rent & barter as a maid, a babysitter & anything they can throw at me for that corner. I’m getting depressed and anxious and wonder when this pandemic will ever be over.

    Reply
  3. Robert Tekas

    Hello, aern money by paid surveys.

    https://www.ysense.com/?rb=59429643

    Reply
  4. Kelly

    I need help finding housing before my family is homeless I’m on SSI. No rental assistance will help without w9 .HOA is keeping me from parking on property walking to a shopping center killing me . judge graded us a stay in home till CDC says diffent NO eviction HOA helping him harassing us .

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Kelly, 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. For information on public housing assistance visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website. We hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Lorna Larsen

        Yeah I’m just wondering if you can help me with my home less problem now and I am disable and I have no vehicle to get any help with anything I need some help with this matter thank you

        Reply
        • Vonda

          Hi Lorna. We pay disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have worked long enough and recently enough in jobs covered by Social Security (usually within the last 10 years). The (SSI) program is a needs based program that gives cash assistance to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. We pay disability benefits to people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or to end in death. If you think you may be eligible to receive disability benefits and would like to apply, you can use our online application.

          If you are unable or would rather not apply online, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please 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
      • Yvonne Bowley

        I’m homeless because I’m not choosing to be because my apartment had bed bugs and nobody wanted to take care of it so no people that are on SSI and social security don’t even get enough to even pay rent and then when they do find a place you guys want them to live in poor conditions this is why some people are homeless not even choosing to be but it get forced out

        Reply
  5. Yehuala

    I am a Advocate Worker who is willing to help those apply for SSI, AND FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO BE CUT OFF. I DO LIVE IN CLEVELAND OHIO, BUT I CAN ASSIST ALL THOSE IN UNITED STATES. PLEASE CONTACT ME.

    Reply
    • William Brown

      You’re in your emails not even accurate

      Reply
  6. Avey

    I was born disabled when I got married the disability stopped i received disability as a child and I guess my first caseworker that gave me my examination once a month decided that I would be ok without any medical help or any disability at all when did getting married ever change a disability the caseworker i have now is very good the first one decided that I not disabled at all can you see epilepsy and can you see heart problems like mine how do I get my disability back

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Avery. We pay disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have worked long enough and recently enough in jobs covered by Social Security (usually within the last 10 years). The (SSI) program is a needs based program that gives cash assistance to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. We pay disability benefits to people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or to end in death. If you think you may be eligible to receive disability benefits and would like to apply, you can use our online application.

      If you are unable or would rather not apply online, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please 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
    • Yehuala

      If you live here in Cleveland I can help you. I am a Advocate who have helped many get their lives together.

      Reply
      • Yehuala

        To include I live in Cleveland Oh. But I can do your paperwork even if you live in another state.

        Reply
      • Yehuala

        I am a Advocate Worker here in Cleveland Ohio here’s my email;
        Sue.d52dial052@gmail.com

        Reply
      • William Brown

        I live in Johnstown Pennsylvania I am on Social Security and I am homeless but they all keep wanting to put me in these places that ain’t nothing but a drug addict and I’m an ex drug addict that ain’t no place for me I don’t know what to do

        Reply
  7. Homeless Nomad

    So you really think that ssdi or ssi is going to get any homeless person into housing??? That’s a joke. No one could even afford a studio on those monthly payments. So, even though the monthly income definitely helps for other living costs, please don’t promote the idea that it will actually help any homeless person get into safe housing. It won’t.

    Reply
    • Brandy

      It really is NOT enough to support one person not without many struggles . Not enough income to get approved for many housing agencies and if one is lucky to find a place to rent there is still not enough to pay rent utilities if u have those supplies food transportation . It simply just is not enough.

      Reply
  8. Ray

    I would be homeless if my sister didn’t let me live with her. I now have no income and no insurance. I have not been able to work since 2013. I am Bipolar and was in a wreck and had a head injury. My memory is so bad now.my psychiatrist has written letters saying I am unable to work. Can you help me get social security disability SA and not SI?

    Reply
    • Yehuala

      I am a Advocate Worker who is available to assist you no matter if you live in Cleveland Ohio or another city. But you have to be able to get all you medical papers saying what is wrong, and have a address where your mail can come. Now in every city in Oh I believe they can or will allow you to have mail sent there. Ask the churches in your city.. Contact me.

      Reply
  9. Tasia Edward

    I’m homeless on SSI how can I get housing?

    Reply
  10. J Q Public

    Per the stupid bitch working at Social Security in Chillicothe Ohio when I asked how much my dependents were receiving while I was living in a homeless shelter,
    “Social Security is a government funded insurance policy and it is not your money. I dont have to tell you anything and you need to be grateful that you even qualified because you don’t look disabled to me.”

    I then told her that I didn’t want Social Security and to stop payments. She said that I’m not allowed to stop receiving payments because there might be government agencies who wouldn’t get paid if I didn’t have money for them to garnish.

    I no longer wonder why they have armed guards sitting in the lobby. I can understand why people want to shoot them now…

    Reply
    • Mistey smith

      What a rude woman she is. So sorry you had to deal with someone who obviously needs a different job. Not all disabilities are visible. She should not be allowed to work in a government office whose jobs are to help people. Not tear them down.

      Reply
      • pat v.

        i have heard of so many other stories as such. it is truly uncalled for . gov. should put cameras on their workers. when review time comes up a raise may not be in their favor. these workers should be disabled–then lets see their understanding.
        once someone has be denied it seems that hardly see any future benefits. just keep on trying.

        Reply
    • TIARRA M PATTERSON Mayfield

      yas

      Reply
    • Quinn

      Yea man ,,,goin through it too with division of unemployment. So I have some advice to all of you who may not know the avenues of our fine system these days. The EEOC or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission http://www.eeoc.gov/ would be probably your best to file complaint with now. The idea of unexperienced and filled positions at the federal level has been a key problem since 2017 and so getting government help anywhere is like asking Ethiopia to supply the United States with food!! Its all messed up!!

      Reply
      • Cassy colson

        Been trying to get unemployment Nov 20 said they needed some paperwork I got the paper work sent it them kept recertify left messages to call me ask them to send all correspondence by mail never received a call or email nothing mailed to me please if you can help

        Reply
        • Vonda

          Hi Cassy. We are unable to answer questions about unemployment insurance as each state administers its own program. Learn more here.

          Reply
    • Yehuala

      Go down to SSI OR CALL THEIR NUMBER (SOCIAL SECURITY 1-866 NUMBER AND GET CUT OFF.) ITS NOT HARD.STOP TALKING TO WORKERS AND CALL SSI.

      Reply
    • Lisag

      LOL. So true. All this I want to help crap! They are only leaches sucking the blood from individuals that worked like Hebrew slaves until they broke so bad we cannot be fixed. Now they think we are problems that they cannot put into the gas chambers or jail till we hurt another person because they push us till we either go violent or just regress into our make believe mind to where we just end up freezing to death. Only difference is there is no going back. Once our mind breaks you may as well shoot us. We are actually dead. Then we are totally worthless. Then & only then can we rest who we were & accept we have no name, no worth, no existence, we are a totally a lost sole till we are dust once again. Society is scared of us because we just continue to survive. For some reason Our will to live far surpasses any other thing here on earth!

      Reply

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