When Should I Apply for SSDI or SSI Benefits?

You should apply for Social Security disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. It may take up to three to five months for your application to be processed, when you are requesting disability benefits.

How to Apply for Social Security Benefits

To apply for SSDI or SSI benefits, you'll need to complete the Social Security Disability Report and your application for Social Security disability benefits. The Disability Report can be completed online.

If you prefer, you can print out the Disability Report and complete it yourself, and then send it or take it to the Social Security office in your local area. The application can be processed more speedily if you include the other information they need.

The information that the Social Security Administration needs includes your full name, your birth certificate and your Social Security number. They also require the names with addresses and pertinent phone numbers of any caseworkers, doctors, clinics or hospitals that have taken care of you.

Include the dates of all your visits to doctors, hospitals, etc., and any medicines, including dosages, that you take.

When Should I Apply for SSDI or SSI Benefits?

The Importance of Medical Records

The Social Security Administration also needs your medical records from those doctors, hospitals, therapists, caseworkers and clinics that you have personally seen or visited, and any lab and test results.

Attach a work summary, including the places where you worked and what type of work you did, and your current W-2 Wage and Tax Statement, or a Federal tax return if you're self-employed.

Besides your basic Social Security disability benefits application, you'll need other forms completed. One form will list all information about your medical condition and how your disability affects your ability to work.

Some of the other forms will grant hospitals, doctors and other healthcare professionals whom you have seen the permission to send information about your medical condition.

Next Steps to Take

Get this pertinent information together as soon as you can, so as not to delay your application. It is often helpful to hire a representative or a disability attorney to help you through the process of paperwork in the initial claim and disability appeals if you are rejected.

Additional Resources