The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is a federal program that provides temporary assistance to low-income elderly, disabled or blind individuals to meet the cost of living. To receive benefits, you must apply for them through the Social Security Administration. As with other federally based programs, hearing back about whether your SSI application has been approved or denied can take weeks or even months. Typically, you should contact the Social Security Administration if you don't hear back by the SSA's guideline of three months.
Social Security Standard
The time for response the Social Security Administration strives to achieve with claims is 120 days, or roughly three months. This standard applies to Social Security disability insurance claims as well as SSI claims. This is the amount of time it usually takes for the examiner assigned to your application to get through the verification and approval process.
Even though the Social Security Administration indicates that it tries to respond to all filings within 120 days, the reality is that it can take up to a full year to hear back with a determination. These cases are rare, but they happen. If all goes smoothly, you may get a response in as little as a month.
What Ties Up Claims
Part of the claims process with SSI is verifying your income. This can take time, as the examiner may have to contact previous or current employers, landlords and other individuals that can testify to your situation. In other words, the Social Security Administration often has to wait to hear back from other individuals before it can render a decision, particularly if you have medical issues that contribute to your financial limitations. Claims also get pushed back because data is missing from the application.
What You Can Do
You can improve the likelihood of a timely response about your SSI application if you make the effort to get all the information the examiner may need prior to submitting your paperwork. Additionally, you are entitled to assistance with filling out your paperwork and getting any documentation that is sufficient to meet eligibility requirements. Ask representatives to help you if you aren't sure if you have what you need for a speedy approval. Lastly, if you have not heard from the SSA office after 120 days, contact the office, preferably in writing through a certified letter, and request a status investigation. You also may contact your SSA office online or via phone (see Resources).