When you count on a monthly check, it's disconcerting, to say the least, when it doesn't show up when you think it is supposed to arrive. That goes as much or more for Supplemental Security Income as for Social Security benefits. Both are supposed to be reliable, government-administered programs and usually work well. But that doesn't help when your awaited SSI check doesn't arrive.
Supplemental Security Income
The abbreviation for Supplemental Security Income, SSI, starts with the same two S's as Social Security benefits, but SSI is a government welfare program funded by general tax dollars, not Social Security taxes. It provides cash assistance and health care coverage to low-income individuals who are either aged 65 or older, blind, or disabled.
Despite its different funding source, the SSI program is administered by the Social Security Administration, like retirement benefits. That means that many of the same rules and safeguards apply to your SSI benefits that are in place for Social Security.
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Checking on Your Check
You've marked the day on the calendar when your SSI check should arrive, but the mail box is empty. You want to get some answers, but the postman doesn't have any idea where your check is. Fortunately, you have another option for tracking the payment.
As an SSI recipient, you can open an account with the SSA called "My Social Security Account." Just visit the "My Social Security Account" page and fill out the information requested. You also create a username and password that you will use to access your online account. Once the account is set up, you can check your information, benefits, and earnings record. You can learn when the missing payment was processed and when it should arrive.
If your payment is lost or stolen, you can also contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or visit your local office. They will review the case and if the payment is due, replace it.
Direct Deposit of SSI Checks
In yesteryear, all checks arrived via the U.S. postal service. The delays and uncertainty of this process nicknamed "snail-mail" resulted in the stock response to late payments: the check is in the mail. These days, you can avoid this aggravation by signing up for direct deposit of your SS and SSI benefits into your bank account.
All you need to sign up for this service is a bank account. Sign up when you apply for SSI payments or, if you are already getting SSI payments and wish to switch to direct deposit, contact your bank to link up your SSI check. Alternatively, phone Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.
As a recipient of SSI, you can sign up for a "My Social Security" account and track down a missing payment online. You can also call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or ask a local office to review the case.
- When calling the Social Security Administration, you must have all relevant information handy (Social Security number, date of birth and award letter.)
- If you have moved since your last check, contact the Social Security Administration and give the agency your new mailing address so checks are not mailed to the wrong address.
Teo Spengler earned a JD from U.C. Berkeley Law School. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an MA and an MFA in English/writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.