How To File For Social Security Disability Benefits

Has a disability impacted your ability to work and earn an income? You may qualify for Social Security disability benefits through the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) if so.

The SSA offers benefits in the form of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to disabled individuals who can’t work. These benefits serve to help them cover the costs of housing, food, and other such basic needs.

There are several ways you may apply for Social Security disability benefits. This guide covers your main options.

Apply Online

Applying for benefits online is a convenient option. An applicant may apply for benefits through the SSA’s website if:

  • They are at least 18 years of age
  • They are not currently receiving Social Security benefits
  • They have a qualifying medical condition or disability that is expected to prevent them from working for at least 12 months or that is expected to result in their death
  • The SSA has not denied their request for benefits within the last 60 days

Applying online involves the following steps:

  • Reviewing the Adult Disability Checklist and gathering the relevant information and documentation
  • Completing the application form
  • Completing the SSA’s Medical Release form

Apply Over the Phone

Some applicants prefer to apply for disability benefits over the phone. You may do so by calling 1-800-772-1213.

Consider this option if you need assistance completing any step of the application process. Although you should complete as much of the paperwork as you can beforehand, you may need guidance to avoid making any errors. By applying over the phone, you have the opportunity to ask an SSA rep for assistance if you have any questions.

Apply In Person

Applying for disability benefits in person is an option you might consider if you want the peace of mind that comes from knowing the SSA has received your application and will begin processing it.

You may apply in person at your local SSA office. The SSA’s website offers a tool for finding an office near you.

What Do I Need When I Apply?

Documentation and information you will typically need when applying for disability benefits includes:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Birth certificate or Permanent Resident Card number if you aren’t a citizen
  • Basic contact information
  • Bank account information
  • Documentation of any other benefits you might be receiving, such as workers’ comp benefits
  • Information about military service, if applicable
  • Information about current or past spouses
  • Documentation of your work history

You will also need to provide substantial medical documentation. Your goal is to clearly demonstrate that you have a disability that meets the SSA’s eligibility criteria.

How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits

Get Help With Your Claim

Those applying for Social Security disability benefits should understand that the SSA often denies initial applications. This isn’t meant to discourage you. Instead, it’s meant to highlight the importance of submitting a thorough application with all the documentation and information you need to provide.

A disability lawyer could help you with this task. If the SSA does deny your application, a lawyer could also assist you with the appeals process. Fill out the Free Case Evaluation form to get connected with an independent attorney who may be able to help with your case.