The Social Security Administration (SSA) issued a notice in August 2023 announcing its plan to begin streamlining the application process for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Today, upwards of 8 million people receive SSI benefits. Yet the application process under current law can prove quite onerous.

Given that qualifying for SSI is based on financial need, individuals must meet a complex set of criteria and supply a great deal of detailed information to the SSA. The application is time-consuming and far from seamless, often requiring applicants to provide information early on that is ultimately unnecessary.

For seniors as well as people living with disabilities applying for SSI, all of this can become a major barrier to access.

First Phase: iSSI

Going forward, the SSA intends to create a fully accessible online SSI application for all. By late 2023, the hope is to put into place the first phase of this initiative, the SSI Simplification Phase I Initiative (iSSI). This initial phase seeks to simplify the SSI application process for low-income applicants who are over age 65 and/or have long-term or permanent disabilities.

By integrating several online portals, the SSA will be able to pre-populate some of the applicant’s information, streamlining the number of basic questions the applicant needs to answer. The system will allow individuals to apply for themselves, or on behalf of a loved one, all without having to visit a local SSA office.

According to the SSA, a greater number of people (including non-U.S. citizens) will be able to apply as a result, and in a timelier manner. In addition, individuals who are starting the SSI application process will no longer need to gather as extensive an amount of paperwork ahead of time, fill out any paper forms, or visit field offices in person.

For further details regarding how iSSI is designed to work, visit the Office of the Federal Register website.