You need notes from the appropriate doctors explaining exactly how you are disabled, when the condition started, and how it prevents you from working. The application form requires you to list all assets (bank acounts, stocks, cars, real estate, etc) all living expenses (rent or mortgage, electric, gas, water, sewer fees if any) all people living with you and their incomes. There are a few criminal history questions. After making sure everything is properly filled out and all other necessary papers included, you mail it in and they turn you down.
A few dopers who actually work in the system can confirm this. Almost everybody is turned down the first time regardless of disability. The whole process is nervewracking and some people don’t go through the trouble of reapplying. If you are accepted you are given an interview. In my experience, the interviewer was petty-bureaucrat toad filled with hatred. Since him, every employee I’ve had to deal with was a generous, caring individual who was doing their best to help people in need. The difference is so dramatic I’m convinced the toad was given his position to further discourage people from completing the process and getting benefits.
SSI payments don’t even cover rent, let alone utilities. The medical plan is great though. I have no copay. My medications are covered, though the HMO keeps changing the formulary. This means I have to call my doctor and have her contact the HMO to explain that yes, I really do need that particular pill as I’ve tried all the alternatives the new formulary suggests and they didn’t work.
Food stamps now take the form of a mac card. They cover only food. While not allowing cigarettes or alcohol to be purchased with foodstamps makes sense, I would like to be able to use them for things like soap, toilet paper etc. I can now walk a block to a Russian market and buy caviar with food stamps (This is not an exaggeration. The market does take food stamps. They do sell canned caviar. Note that I do not actually buy caviar with my food stamps, I’m just pointing out an absurdity of the system).
There are scheduled reviews of eligibility for food stamps, eligibility for SSI, and proof of continuing disability. These are conducted seperately and may take the form of mailing back proper forms and papers, scheduled telephone interviews, or a scheduled interview at the county office.