Apply for Benefits

To qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Adult Public Assistance (APA), you must:

This article looks in detail at SSI’s and APA’s rules for adults ages 18 – 64.

Requirements for Noncitizens

To get SSI or APA, you have to be a U.S. citizen, a qualified alien, or a Native American born in Canada or Mexico who has rights to cross the border. Examples of qualified aliens include people who are:

  • Lawfully Admitted for Permanent Residence (LAPR) in the U.S
  • Refugees admitted to the U.S. under Section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
  • Granted asylum under Section 208 of the INA

To get SSI, qualified aliens must also meet certain other conditions. For more details about the rules for noncitizens, contact your local Social Security office and your Division of Public Assistance (DPA) office.

How to Apply

For SSI: You can apply at your local Social Security office or by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY). You can start your application online by filling out an Adult Disability Report, but you must complete it by phone or in person.

For APA: You can apply by filling out the DPA Application for Services and submitting it to your local Division of Public Assistance (DPA) office by mail, fax, email, or in person.

Tip: Do the applications for both SSI and APA. If your countable income appears low enough for you to get SSI benefits, you have to show you have applied for SSI before you can be approved for APA. Examples of ways to prove you applied for SSI: a letter from Social Security showing you've applied, an SSI award letter, or a proof that you got an SSI benefit for the current month.

Retroactive payments

If you are approved for SSI, you get SSI benefits for the entire time since the date you applied. That’s why you should apply as soon as possible. If you don’t have everything ready for your application, that’s OK — you can still apply and submit any missing information later.

If you already get SSI benefits when you apply for APA, your APA benefits will begin immediately. If you don't get SSI benefits when you apply for APA, your APA benefits will usually begin the first day of the month after you are approved for SSI or SSDI, or after Disability Determination Services (DDS) notifies DPA that you have a disability, as long as you meet all APA eligibility requirements.

Getting Your Applications Ready

To complete your applications for SSI and APA, you need:

  1. Basic facts, like your name, date of birth, and address

Note: You don’t need to have a fixed address. If you’re homeless or don’t have a fixed address, you can still get SSI. Read Social Security’s Spotlight on Homelessness.

Bring:

  • Identification, like your driver’s license, state ID, or passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship, like naturalization papers or your U.S. passport, if you are a citizen born outside the U.S.
  • Social Security Number
  1. Documentation of your medical condition

Bring:

  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of doctors, therapists, hospitals, clinics, and others who have treated you.
  • Prescriptions and results of medical tests
  • Documentation explaining how your medical condition affects your daily life

Be ready to:

  • Sign forms so SSA or DPA can get copies of your medical records
  • Fill out forms about how your disability affects your daily life
  • Give SSA or DPA permission to contact your employer, friends, or family to learn how your disability affects you
  1. Documentation of your income

Bring:

  • A list of the types of jobs you’ve done for the past 15 years
  • Copies of recent tax records or W-2 forms
  • Information about other benefits you’re on
  • School records, if you’re under 22
  1. Documentation of your resources

Bring:

  • Copies of bank statements

Be ready to:

  • Answer questions and give proof about any savings, retirement accounts, stocks, bonds, real estate, or other resources that you own

The DPA combined Application for Services also has a good list of the sorts of information you need when you apply for APA benefits.

When you apply for APA, you can also apply for other state benefits

To apply for APA, you have to submit the DPA combined Application for Services. You can also use this application to apply for other benefits at the same time, such as:

  • Interim Assistance (IA), a $280 monthly cash benefit for people who are waiting for their SSI and APA applications to be approved. Once you start getting APA, your IA benefits end.
  • Medicaid, free health coverage for people with low to moderate income. Learn more in DB101’s How Health Benefits Work article.
  • Food Stamps, a monthly benefit for people with low income that helps pay for food. Learn more about Food Stamps.
  • ATAP, a monthly cash benefit for families with children that also helps parents find work. Learn more about ATAP.

Tip: When you fill out the application form, make sure you check the boxes for all the benefits you need.

You should also look into: