Guest Bloggers, People Facing Barriers, SSI

Homelessness and Social Security

May 6, 2021 • By

Reading 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.

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  1. Larissa A.

    I’ve had several medical conditions over the years.Therare 2 medical conditions that are serious. I am no longer ambulatory for life. I not only have to watch my budget , SSI doesn’t pay that much. I also have to make due with an apartment that isn’t accessible. The physically disabled have limited housing and long waiting lists. Rent in Des Moines Iowa is high , new apartments have stairs to the front doors. All of this makes it where I am in and out of doctor’s appointments and no time during the week to take care of other things. It is making my health worse.

    • Crystal G.

      If are on ssi

    • Kenneth. E.

      I know the feeling..

  2. Hollywho

    Where to begin,
    First and foremost the help available is completely inaccessible to anyone with no internet, phone and no shelter. Most have lost everything and very quickly. Remember most of us are 2 paychecks away from losing it all to begin with after job loss or any unplanned Disability or mental disability that was not your choice or your fault. They are evicted or leaving the worst state mental institutions I have ever seen which are worse than a jail cell with more illegal treatment than anyone cares to look into. They have no clue where they were dropped off and are offered little to no help. Most shelters are basically food and a floor mat with one phone with specific times for a group of 50+ plus. They offer a “case worker” which takes over a month for the appointment and by the time you get o them they hate their job, have an attitude, don’t offer valid help and by the time you can even get to them to do anything online your 3 month max stay is up. Explain to me anyone who can repair credit, find a stable job within walking distance of the desert shelter areas, get a phone, and internet access or computer and find a place to live in that time period. I would go into further detail but it will just upset me how its a Never ending circle and its set up that way. They have no clue where they are even at after being dropped off and no directions/map or clue what is going. Most have had no food a shower clothes etc for a while. I was amazed to be denied because I was a woman without children so a shelter did not take me in. I was left outside like a dog. I wouldn’t even leave a dog outside cold and hungry. Some shelters only take you if you are getting a ssi check and deduct it and others have very short time limits. I cam tell you what I needed and what would help. Directions to library, access to computers in shelters so they can at least get some information people!!!! How do they not have more than one phone or a computer! Even to print copies cost $ and they clearly just lost everything! Bonus passes to get to the offices or even know how to apply for food assistance, Medicaid, anyone with a disability knows nothing about how to apply for help. Mental illness goes untreated. Their is no info or transportation to medical facilities for any treatment or even job access and Transportation. They need help and where is the money going???? I see the millions in donations and I can assure you it is not going to anyone who needs or wants the help! Their is info that should be available on getting assurance phones and data for free to at least help you get online and get a job! You can’t get a job if they can’t even contact you, you are u showered, haven’t slept in days and don’t have the appropriate clothes. They need access and info about Illinois free legal aid for expounding or sealing a record if that’s the case, or credit help! Basic healthcare items are scarce and trust me its the things like a qtip they don’t have. They need real case workers. Real people who really care. Real people who know you don’t ever want to ask for help but need it. Protection and advocacy and info for dept of social services. Helping with email accounts etc. The problem is no one cares. They need basic information and unless its happening to you, you won’t understand how bad the system really is. It can happen to anyone so never judge. Job opportunities are also another factor. Look near any shelter and its almost barren. How can they walk to jobs that aren’t guaranteed and they have to leave shelter in 3 months with no where to go after. This happens to vets, woman, men,teens, children from all backgrounds and all financial situations. The information and the level of caring and accessibility to information is key. Being kind is free. A poster with general info takes $2 to post. Why is it not available?

    • Kenneth. E.


  3. John

    Run across the border and come back in New Mexico or Texas and you’ll get free everything forever

  4. Jeff B.

    Social services is a joke.I had to pay shelter expenses how can i save enough money to be self sufficient if i have to pay 587 month on 800 dollar a month share a room with 3 men a bathroom and a kitchen with 20 men?

    • Cynthia M.

      They really expect us to save money on the money that they give us what all the housing is so high we can’t even get into studio and then we asked for low-income housing and we don’t get that so we wonder why we’re homeless and study going downhill open up some places for us you guys opening all these new apartment buildings open something for us for the homeless for the needyI look around oak park and see all these new buildings being built but they ain’t for the low-income people for the homeless it for the middle class and above there’s nothing for us out here we can’t even survive out here give us something give us a nice buildings give us buildings with washing machine and dryers and garbage disposals in and balconies and all that give us that let us have something nice we deserve it we aretired . As for me I’m tired of being in the cold I’m tired of being in the heat and I’m tired of being in the rain open the door for me and imma show you how much a home can be appreciated.

      • Jeanne M.

        Shit all of the empty buildings in San Antonio because they are building brand new buildings . That’s such crap!!!
        Turn some of those empty buildings into housing for the homeless. I think its stupid that they let them stand vacant and build a new one right across the street.

  5. Shirley J.

    I have been moving from place to place for 2 and a half years now I’m about 2 days from being homeless again please let me know where I can get some housing assistance ASAP God Bless 🙏

  6. Frances m.

    People do not understand that living on $ 630 a month is not stressful. Most people have at least a little more. My life is hell. You try to pay for a car, car insurance and the needy stuff, you will understand. Welfare doesn’t pay for anything anymore.

    • Bobby

      That way the government need to give ssi and ssdi a raise.

  7. Kristina M.

    I was a victim of human trafficking and worked b4 the crime and after being thrown out of the 3rd flr building by the trafficker. It got to a point trying to fight for disability with an attny just let my case sit around for a few yrs. Worked until dismissed because I could not perform my job duties again. By this time recvd SSI with no housing help. Please help

    • Justin

      Well im sorry to hear that

    • Cynthia N.

      Pregunto recibo seguro social por incapacidad y dos menores reciben por muerte de papa mas de mi cualifican para la ayuda del presidente bien de los 3000

    • Vonda

      Hi Kristina. 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!

  8. Jackie D.

    Sad to say that we worked and our parents taught us to never use the Government. That Social Security is for when we retire, so hard work will pay off in the end. Unfortunately that is not true any more. I worked 45 years paid in to my FICA, bought and paid for my benefits being on SSDI with 40+ credits, my Disabled Son drew off of me. Over 13 years we have been denied our benefits and Assistance. I needed a modification for my vehicle for him, the School System denied that. The States will not follow Federal Guidelines or Regulations and get away with it, while we suffer. Then this opens up doors for the school to report you to CPS when they are the abusers, and neglected me and so many others, that are living in there care homeless in the Walmart parking lot and thank God WalMart understands, because the State and Local Agencies don’t. It’s all about Mental illness how much money can the State get from the Feds and use us to get there funds. That’s all you hear is mental abuse mental illness behavioral issues drug addiction alcohol abuse domestic nothing positive the government is so negative and put families down so they can get a kickback by stealing their children I ain’t giving foster care all our federal government money that we were entitled to they get it and they get the praise and glory and all we get is stereotype we get discriminated against and they call us every name in the book like where something’s wrong with us because of their fault because they did this society did this to us did this to the children by stealing them and taking them away from the only parent that they know they’re robbing these children of stability they’re abusing them mentally by tormenting them about their parents say that they’re never going to come and get you wondering where their parents are and how come they haven’t been there it’s because you don’t have your due processing Court you can’t say nothing they put motion upon motion on you then they put an order of protection against you so you can’t see your child I mean it’s a game that they play did they get the state of Tennessee Department of Children Services has almost 10 million dollars and their account for adoption and Foster Care and then out of that money the bonus checks come in for the case workers and their smiling and the foster care people are smiling because look at all the children they collect up and they don’t have to work and they get a home that’s worth $410,000 brand new five bedroom they get a handicap accessible vehicle to take on all these on disabled children and what do we get who is helping us I thought for sure Social Security would watch out for us and protect us and our money but no they don’t they side with them and don’t protect the children for the elderlies or the veterans and the disabled they always say oh wait there’s nothing we can do our hands are tied but you don’t even investigate they allow that money to just freely go out the door like they earned it like it’s their money it was my money that would be going out the door and you didn’t work for that I did and everybody else has and they want to spend our money and send it over to all these other different countries and these kids that don’t get their money they don’t see it they don’t have no idea where it’s going to it’s thinking you know they’re extorting. If you don’t believe what I’m saying then you tell me that I’m wrong and I’ll show you the proof they’re controlling us they want to make this a communist country this is a reason why we’re poor and in poverty because they’re taking our prosperity away from us same with our constitutional rights

    • Margaret

      Oh sweetie, I hear you but have no advice for you, I’m sorry to say. I don’t know where you are, but my heart hurts for you. I myself worked for many years and then was disabled due to a brain injury in an automobile accident. I was finally able to get disability, and am just barely able to survive now.
      All I can suggest is to let go of your hatred because it is only poisoning you further. Pray to the Holy Spirit about your situation, as him to “take this from me and look upon it, judging it for me. Let me not see it as a sign of sin or death, or use it for destruction. Teach me how Not to make of it an obstacle to peace, but use it for me, to facilitate its coming”. You need the peace of God in your heart, and you Can rely on Him. Place your situation in his hands, and feel gratitude to his knowing what to do, and then, sincerely step back and let him work. Be blessed in all your doings, my friend. It will work for you.

      • Gregorio

        Margaret, your words are absolutely beautiful and are so true and correct. Yes, giving God graditude is the key for him taking this tremendous load off Jackie’s shoulders. I’ve see God work him wonderful miracles and Jackie, he will work his miracles for you also. A key important fact is to Thank him in advance for his solution to your problems. It’s thanking him in advance because we have to believe in our hearts that he WILL SOLVE YOUR PROBLEMS.
        And that’s the power of POSITIVE THINKING.
        May God Bless you Both.

  9. Colleen R.

    Been disabled since 2007. Spinal injury. Trying to survive off of poverty level income AND take care of elderly mom that lives with me. I applied for food stamps and every program out there….got DENIED repeatedly. Told I collect too much money!!! Are you frigging kidding me!!! I divorced and abusive man after being married for 25 years they will not let me collect against his income until I turn 62 I’m 51 now at the rate I’m going I’ll be dead by the time I’m 62 I don’t understand why I can’t collect off of his income instead of mine where he makes six figures a year and I gave it all up to take care of a special needs child and then became disabled. A system is severely f***** up pardon the French.

    • Sharon W.

      I hear all of you and sadly what you all are saying is the truth oh yes this current ssa system is obsolete and broken and poverty structured I pray President Biden fix this before he leave office, this is an urgent call prices continue to increase, and ssa need to increase “now”

  10. Kelly G.

    I actually googled email president and Whitehouse sight came up I clicked on they had list asked who I wanted to email there a list and Biden is one of them I get disability I had concerns I’ve emailed trump when he was president and Biden

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