SSI Initial Interview

The initial interview is the participant's first contact with the Supplemental Security Income and Medi-Cal Advocacy Program (SSIMAP) Advocate. The purpose of the interview is to determine if the participant has already applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and if not, initiate the steps necessary to apply.

Key Points

  • The participant's success in the SSI process is in large part dependent on the SSIMAP Advocate's role in securing the participant's trust and cooperation. The first opportunity to do this is during the initial interview.
  • The initial appointment sets the tone for the participant's success in the SSI process. During the initial appointment, the SSIMAP Advocate:
    • Explains the SSIMAP Advocate's role as liaison between Social Security Administration (SSA) and the participant, acting on behalf of the participant;
    • Stresses the importance of cooperating with SSIMAP requirements;
    • Explains the benefits of achieving self-sufficiency with SSI approval.
    • Discusses available supportive services for General Relief (GR) participants, including transportation funds to all medical and SSI-related appointments; and
    • Encourages participants to seek and follow a treatment plan for their disabilities.
  • The SSI process is explained and the participant's SSI status, if any, is determined.
    • Participants already in the process (i.e., have an SSI application request for reconsideration, or SSI hearing pending) are encouraged to allow the SSIMAP Advocate to become the participant's authorized representative (allowing the SSIMAP Advocate to act on the participant's behalf) or
    • Refer them to the County's contracted hearing representative.
    • Participants who have another representative or are self-represented are not required to have the SSIMAP Advocate as their authorized representative.  However, they are required to periodically report the status of their SSI application.
  • Participants are screened for basic SSI eligibility requirements (i.e., the technical requirements outside the disability requirements, such as residence and immigration status requirements).
  • There is no retroactivity for SSI benefits. Participants are eligible for SSI payments on the first of the month following the SSI application date. To prevent loss of SSI benefits payable, every effort is made to protect the SSI application.
    • SSI application is completed for individuals screened as SSI eligible and who have not had a disability evaluation in the last 90 days.
    • When a disability evaluation was completed within the last 90 days:

If an SSI application was denied…


in the last 60 days

a request for reconsideration is filed.

more than 60 days ago

If the participant has a good cause (per SSA regulations), a request for reconsideration is filed.


If a request for reconsideration was denied…


in the last 60 days

a referral to the hearing representative is completed to file a SSI hearing request.

more than 60 days ago

a new SSI application is completed.

    • SSI applications are not completed by SSIMAP Advocates for individuals age 65 or older.  As these persons can qualify for SSI based on their age (instead of disability) and are approved quicker, SSA requires them to apply on their own. However, if requested, SSIMAP Advocates can assist the participant but are informed that SSA may take longer to process the application.
    • SSI applications. are not completed for individuals not meeting SSI technical requirements (e.g., residence/immigration requirements).

SSI Advocate Duties

  • Upon initial contact with the participant, explains SSIMAP, its requirements, and the SSIMAP Advocate's role.
  • Determines if the participant is already in the SSI process.  If so, encourages the participant to accept SSI advocacy. If the individual's reconsideration has been denied, encourages the participant to accept a referral to the contracted hearing representative.
  • If the participant is not already in the SSI process, screens for basic SSI eligibility requirements.
  • Completes an SSI application, request for reconsideration, or refers to the hearing representative, as appropriate.
  • Assesses any supportive service needs, making any appropriate medical referrals, and/or authorizing any needed transportation funds.
  • Records all participant contact and SSIMAP case activity on the electronic case record.
  • Updates the electronic case record with new or changed information and documents all actions taken.


Upon conclusion of the initial appointment, the outcomes should include:

  • The participant was thanked for coming to the appointment, motivated to continue the SSI process, and encouraged to become self-sufficient.
  • If the participant was in the SSI process, he/she was encouraged to allow the SSIMAP Advocate to become his/her authorized representative or to refer him/her to the County's contracted hearing representative, when appropriate.
  • If the participant was not in the SSI process but was potentially SSI-eligible, an SSI application or request for reconsideration was filed.
  • If the participant was age 65 or older, he/she understood he/she must apply for SSI independently.
  • The participant understood his/her reporting responsibilities.
  • Any needed supportive services were provided or referrals were made.
  • The participant left the office knowing the SSIMAP Advocate's name, file number, and telephone number.
  • The electronic case record was updated with all actions taken related to SSIMAP.

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