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. Sunip

    The security in Free Fire Live very high

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  2. Lori M

    In 2018 I took employment. My ssi wasn’t enough to pay rent, utilities, car expences, eat. So when it was offered. I worked part time. This eventually became a nightmare. SSA took a year to decide I was overpaid. I was tel them about the job and change of address, everything. It didn’t matter. But this time they said I owed $2700. Pay now. They didn’t respond to applications for waver or reconsideration. They stopped all communication except letters of overpayment. Eventually they decided I also owed another $3500 for in-kind income. Evan though I live alone and pay my own expenses. $700 for rent wasn’t enough they said so they took $300 more a month and still are. I will soon be back with the homeless population. Not for any other reason except they for some reason don’t want to fallow their own rules and regulations and don’t seem to have to answer to anybody. I just wanted to help support my self and not be homeless anymore. Health issues are declining more and more and they are putting me on the street. I don’t call that fighting homelessness. I call it promoting it.

    Reply
  3. Leah Gonzales

    Being homeless with a child during this last year and more, was a nightmare. Local services cut off all temporary “support”, the same week the SIP started. Knowing we were going to end up in a tent if they stopped meeting their end of our emergency housing agreement. Long story short, the local private fund from our public schools families, also dropped the ball helping all the families they’d been funded by donations, to help. Again putting us on the streets into a tent. Literally. A newspaper did a story and insisted I include a gofundme. I did so but only after they and I had confirmed with the local ssa office, that this would not affect my payments. There was also statewide fires occurring. So here I am today may 24th 2021. Payments were cutoff in March by ssa. Supposedly until I showed verification of payments from PUA for March 2020-Aug 2020. Again I was told don’t worry about the gofundme. I proved pua wasn’t supposed to be an issue. Benefits still didn’t start back up. No word why. Until I called repeatedly asking what’s happening.
    Finally somebody tells me I have too many resources. Because they’ve decided gofundme is a resource since it’s not income. Or whatever the current reasoning. I’ve used it to cover hotels, street life living (which means generators. Replacing food clothes toys books bikes etc repeatedly), a lawyer to help in a horrible custody case, due to family courts illegally giving custody of my child to our abuser(I refused to do so and am in trouble for not complying); even though he us now deceased due to being shot to death. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on treatments for medications and remedies to help with the horrific damages done to my health and body, caused by unsanitary conditions and old rooms in buildings that needed remodeling instead of SIP. You name it, it found its way into becoming a serious issue for us during this pandemic.
    Masks don’t let me forget buying masks which should be a huge rebate for everyone tax wise.
    All that said, if that gofundme hadn’t happened, when the local services and housing decided to cut their losses and run for the hills; my child and I wouldn’t have survived. Period. Yes I also bought a Christmas tree and presents for him.
    I also told ssa and as it seems to need repeating, I was told, don’t worry about it.
    Cut to the chase…last week I recieved the first-ever notice, in my ssa inbox.
    A bill for overpayment. The amount?
    Almost $500 dollars more than I have left to my name.
    It said I was overpaid from March 2020 until September 2020. Wow. That isn’t right. I didn’t have this gofundme until the end of September. So I call for clarification because that was all it said aside from pay now or else.
    I then get told that letter was wrong and it’s been adjusted to half the amount they stated initially. And now it’s for the dates of September 2020 until March 2021 when they stopped my benefits.
    Great. So now I either give them every dollar I have and awe them more, or run around trying to get them to reconsider or give me a waiver. In the meantime, there this whole thing of why I’m on ssi(disability) in the first place. Because I’m really actually truly disabled in multiple aspects. And homeless with a child. And trying to stay alive from the extreme domestic violence that seems to extend past my abusers grave. And find us a home. And fight the courts for their erroneous ways. And get my child to school fed and semi happy.
    With ever failing health.
    So the purpose of my commenting here us to respond to the recent statement made by the head honcho of the SSA.
    No sir believe it or not, things have not been made easier for those of us with the most need.
    Last note. Guess why I am on ssi instead of ssdi.
    Because somehow, I’m kissing exactly one credit of work history from 2007. The last qualifying time period if my disability onset date were true and corrected.
    I have 39 work credits and one missing employer, two if you count the missing decision I was awarded by the dept of labor in 2007 for unpaid wages.
    These are also some of the fun times I get to have in my nonstop effort to keep the federal government complacent with their decision to award me what is currently zero dollars a month and medi-caid I can barely use due to nonstop struggles in life. And bad matches of surgeons to funding insurance provided to actual need.
    Maybe I should’ve spent the last few minutes doing waivers and reconsiderations. But I rather took it to heart that the head honcho said he wanted to hear directly from us.
    Here’s my two cents. Please don’t consider this an acceptance of overpayment debt responsibility. It’s just an expression. I promise.
    Last note
    None of this should be used to point fingers and any one person in ssa. It is entirely not their fault. Nor is it at all mine.

    Reply
  4. Kelly Bell

    Many older and retired people have been homeless every year! The government should establish an accurate social security delivery system for every individual citizen. I have been working as a senior advisor at this flirtymania plus platform and help people to get connected with others across the globe. By the way, we should ensure the social security of the senior citizens.

    Reply
  5. Yvonne Bowley

    I’m homeless in Maine and no one cares people with disabilities living in poor conditions and people leave them there because of why they don’t have no use for people that are on disability and I have my dog with me

    Reply
    • Ann C., Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi, Yvonne. We are sorry to hear about your situation. You may be eligible to receive social services from the state in which you live. These services include free meals, housekeeping help, transportation, or help with other problems. To get information about services in your area and find out if you qualify, you will need to contact your state or local social services or welfare office. We hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Tabitha Burch

        Can I get this help

        Reply
        • Ann C., Public Affairs Specialist

          Hi, Tabitha. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. You may be eligible to receive social services from the state in which you live. These services include free meals, housekeeping help, transportation, or help with other problems. To get information about services in your area and find out if you qualify, you will need to contact your state or local social services or welfare office. We hope this helps.

          Reply
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  8. Hospitals & Asylums

    Being homeless is just about the only way to profit from SSI and SSDI. Done right, with a pension, decent medical education including a water filter, free legal camping, that is often lost locally to monopolistic attitudes by social programs for the “homeless”, camping in a clean wilderness, within walking distance on a trail to an urban market, is very healthy. It is healthier to live outside than “home-side”. Before contact Native Americans are rumored to have lived beyond 100 years of age unless they died due to accident or warfare.

    Due to frequent persecutions of free legal camping and weather, migration is often necessary. Camping in the national parks is often compromised by obsessive compulsive permits. The National Forest provide the most reliable free legal camping, unless compromised by their incessant fire-hazardous work in the fo-rest. Local areas, including urban areas, often provide for free legal camping, on side-walks and forested areas. SSA is encouraged, like HUD, to help ensure there is safe, healthy, free legal camping in every community.

    The national park superintendent may require permits, designate sites or areas, and establish conditions for camping under 36CFR§2.10(b)(4) 6am. Residing in park areas, other than on privately owned lands, except pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit, lease or contract, is prohibited under 36CFR§ 2.61(a). A special use authorization is not required for camping in the National Forest under 36CFR§251.50(c).

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