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Direct Field Office Payments

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

2187. Direct Field Office Payments

2187.1 Can Social Security offices make direct payments of SSI benefits?

Social Security offices are authorized to make direct field office payments. There are two types of direct payments: SSI emergency advance payments (EAP) and SSI or Social Security immediate payments.

2187.2 Under what conditions can a Social Security office make an emergency advance payment?

SSI emergency advance payments are available only at the time of initial application if you need assistance before the first payment arrives. You must present strong evidence of the following:

  1. Qualifying for payment in the current or in the following month by meeting the qualifications for eligibility (age, disability, blindness, citizenship or alien status as applicable); and

  2. A financial emergency exists where you have insufficient income or resources to meet an immediate need for food, clothing, shelter or medical care.

2187.3 How much is the payment under an emergency advance payment?

The maximum EAP is the smallest of these three amounts:

  1. The Federal benefit rate (FBR) plus any federally administered State and supplement;

  2. The amount of that month's payment (computed according to §2182 - §2183); or

  3. The amount requested for the emergency.

2187.4 How does SSA recover the emergency advance payment?

If you are due retroactive SSI benefits, the amount of the emergency advance payment is withheld from the retroactive benefits. If there is no retroactive SSI benefits, we recover the emergency advance payment in up to six monthly increments starting the first month you are eligible for benefits.

2187.5 Under what conditions can a Social Security office make an immediate payment?

SSI or Social Security immediate payments are available at the field office management's discretion. To be considered for immediate payment, the following criteria apply:

  1. Your case involves delay in payment of benefits due;

  2. All development to establish eligibility is complete; and

  3. You have a financial emergency which the FO cannot otherwise resolve.

Issuance of an SSI EAP does not mean you cannot receive an immediate payment of SSI or Social Security benefits. An immediate payment is limited to the smaller of:

  • $999 for an individual or each member of an eligible couple, or

  • The total unpaid benefits due at the time the FO makes the immediate payment.

Last Revised: Jan. 20, 2006


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