Before you apply, you should gather the following information to make the application process easier:

  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers for all doctors, healthcare professionals, hospitals and clinics that have treated your adult child.
  • ​Names and dates of medical tests and who ordered them.
  • ​Names of medications, dosages, reason for prescriptions and who prescribed them.
  • ​Names and addresses of schools attended.
  • ​Names, addresses, and phone numbers of all employers (if any).


Earned Income:  Earned income will reduce your adult child's SSI benefit but there are work incentives that apply to reduce the loss to about 40 cents on the dollar.

  • ​General Income Exclusion:  -$20 from earned or unearned income
  • ​Earned Income Exclusion: -$65 from earned income
  • ​Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE)
  • ​Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE)
  • ​SSI benefit is then reduced by 1/2 of the remaining earned income.
    • ​​Ex: $585 earned income - $20 - $65 /2 = $250 SSI reduction but $1,176 total income! ($841 - $250 + $585)

In-Kind Support & Maintenance (ISM)​: ISM is a form of unearned income that will reduce the SSI benefit by 1/3.  It occurs when a SSI recipient lives in the home of another (your home) and doesn't pay his or her fair share.  If you charge your son or daughter rent, he or she should get the full SSI benefit.  

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Unearned Income:  Unlike earned income, there are no exclusions from unearned income, which will reduce the SSI benefit on a dollar for dollar basis. 

Reporting Requirements:  As Rep Payee, you have certain reporting requirements.  See page 10 of the Guide.  It is especially important that your report an earned income your adult-child makes; doing so will avoid having to pay back the SSA after the fact.. 

Once the application is complete, your local office will send record requests to all of the doctors, healthcare professionals, hospitals, clinics, schools and employers listed in the application.  For many applicants, these records may suffice.  For others, especially high-functioning individuals, you may want to deliver to the SSA (in person or via certified mail) additional supporting documentation, such as:

  • Medical Source Statements:  Medical records typically do not include doctors' opinions about the things a patient can or cannot do.  A medical source statement allows them to provide these opinions.  NOTE: To be helpful, at least 2 functional limitations need to be checked as "marked" in 2 different paragraphs or as "extreme" in 1 paragraph.
  • VIDES Assessment: if your child receives Medicaid waiver services or is on the waiting list.
  • Third-Party Function Report​: to be completed by someone who knows your child well.
  • Teacher Questionnaire​: self explanatory.

You can deliver these reports in person to your local SSA office or via certified mail.  Many SSA offices have drop boxes for documents so you don't have to wait.  If you want a receipt you'll have to wait though.

There are several ways you can apply for SSI:  online, in person and via a phone interview (contact your local SSA office).


Ask the bank to send you paper statements and keep clear records of expenditures so you are ready to submit your annual account to the SSA.  See pages, 8 and 16 of the Guide for more info.

Application:  You can request to become your adult-child's Representative Payee when the application is submitted or after he or she has been found eligible for SSI. As Representative Payee, SSI checks will be issued in your name for the benefit of your adult-child.

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Rep Payee Account:  Once you receive your letter of appointment you will need to open up an account at the bank of your choice in your name for the benefit of your-adult child.  See page 6 of the Guide (link below) for more information.