Once you're approved for disability benefits through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, you will have to undergo a "pre-effectuation review contact" (PERC) meeting with the Social Security Administration (SSA). PERCs are conducted before payments can begin to make sure that you're still financially eligible for benefits and to update any other information as needed.
You'll usually get a notice in the mail about your PERC about a month after you've been approved for SSI benefits. If you're scheduled for a PERC, your benefit payments can't begin until it's completed, though there are some exceptions to this rule (see below).
The PERC interview is a meeting with a Social Security representative that takes place after your SSI claim has been approved but before you can begin receiving benefits. It's a final check by the SSA to ensure that you still meet the non-medical qualifications for SSI benefits. The PERC interview might also be called a "pre-effectuation review conference."
If Social Security has appointed a representative payee for you, ask that person to attend the PERC meeting.
Think of the PERC as the final hurdle you have to cross before you can begin receiving SSI benefits. In addition to rechecking your financial situation (income and assets), Social Security might also use a PERC to update and verify other non-medical documentation (like birth certificates or leases). It's important that you answer all questions honestly.
During the PERC meeting, the Social Security representative will ask about things that could affect your benefits that might have changed, like your income or living arrangements. The outcome of the PERC can affect your SSI eligibility or benefit amount. But most of the time, the PERC is a simple process that's over quickly, and once it's complete, you can begin receiving benefits.
Social Security has two types of PERCs: limited and full. Which one you might face will depend on the type of SSI claim you file.
Limited PERC. A limited PERC is confined to reviewing just a few issues. Limited PERCs are used only in the following types of claims, where it's important to expedite payment to the beneficiary:
Full PERC. Most PERCs are full PERCs. At these meetings, Social Security will document any changes to your case that could affect your eligibility. Any SSI claims that don't qualify for a limited PERC require a full PERC.
You can contact Social Security to determine whether your claim will require a full or limited PERC meeting.
You need to bring proof of your financial status to your PERC review. Here are examples of documents you might need:
You should also bring evidence of your living arrangements. If you're living with someone else, you should bring that person to the PERC interview (or a signed letter from that person) to verify your statements about your living arrangements.
If you live on your own—that is, you live by yourself, and no one else pays for your rent, mortgage, utilities, or food—your living arrangements won't change your eligibility for SSI benefits. But if someone else pays for your food and/or shelter needs, it can affect how much SSI you can get. Social Security calls such assistance "in-kind support." Social Security will cut your monthly benefit amount by up to one-third to account for free room and board.
For example, let's say you have two roommates, and you claim that you pay your share of the rent, utilities, and food costs. If Social Security finds that you pay one-third or more of the total expenses, your roommate's contributions won't be considered in-kind support. But if you pay less than a third, Social Security would say you receive at least some in-kind support and reduce your SSI benefits proportionally.
Be sure to bring any documents or witnesses who can verify your living arrangements with you to the PERC. For instance, if you live with your sister and pay rent to her, it will be helpful to have her with you at the PERC interview or to bring a written document from her stating that you pay rent to her (and how much you pay). You need this evidence to prove to Social Security that you're paying rent.
What if you've been living with someone rent-free, or someone else has been paying your rent, mortgage, or other living expenses while you wait for your SSI determination? If the person paying your costs expects to be paid back once you begin receiving benefits, and that obligation is documented, Social Security might not reduce your monthly benefit if the loan meets these five requirements.
Social Security won't require documentation if you live with your spouse and minor children (and no one else) and no one outside your household pays for your food and shelter. (Note that a working spouse's income and assets could affect your SSI eligibility or benefit amount.)
Generally, SSI disability payments can't begin until your PERC review is completed and Social Security has confirmed that you're still financially eligible for SSI payments. However, in the following scenarios, payment of benefits can begin even if the PERC review isn't complete.
If you miss your PERC appointment, Social Security will delay paying your disability benefits and could close your case entirely. Under Social Security rules, your claim can't be paid until your eligibility is verified (again) after you've received medical approval for SSI disability. And Social Security could close your claim if:
Almost all SSI claims will require at least a limited PERC interview, but there are some exceptions. Social Security won't conduct a PERC In the following situations.
It's vital that you attend your PERC and that you comply with any requests for financial documentation that Social Security makes. If you have questions about the PERC, you should contact Social Security directly. Don't try to guess.
You can call the SSA toll-free at 800-772-1213 Monday through Friday. If you prefer, you can talk to a representative in person at your local Social Security office. Be sure to call Social Security first to see if you need an appointment.
Updated October 17, 2022