How to Apply for Social Security Disability (SSDI) and SSI Benefits
If you think you may qualify or be eligible for either SSDI or SSI benefits it is important to know who to contact for your initial application process. The first step is to contact the closest Social Security Administration office directly either in person or by phone to begin your application. You may also apply with the Social Security Administration (SSA) online at www.ssa.gov . Some people apply on their own while others will enlist the help of an attorney at the start of their case. Those that get help will find it easier to make it through the entire application process.
Whether you have an attorney helping you out or not, the application process will require a significant amount of information about you and your medical conditions. This includes your past medical history, work history, educational or military service history, and other personal information. The following list discusses the type of information that you will need to submit during your application process:
1. Medical Records – This includes the names, addresses, phone numbers, and dates of service of all doctors, hospitals (including ER visits), and clinics where you have been treated and are currently being treated for your condition. It is also important to gather all of the medical records in your possession, the names of all the medications you are prescribed, and a list of any medical tests that you have had done.
2. Work History – This includes the job title, name of business, dates worked, the number of hours worked per day, and your rate of pay for all jobs that you have performed during the last 15 years. If you are self-employed you will need to bring in your federal income tax returns to show your income for that year. A complete work and earning history is necessary for the Social Security examiners to evaluate your case.
3. Educational & Military Service History – You will need to provide a full history of your educational background, including schools attended, years attended, and any degrees earned. You will also need to provide your military service history including an original or certified copy of military discharge papers for all periods of active duty.
4. Other Personal Information – You will need to have your social security number, along with those for other members of your family, and a birth certificate, proof of US citizenship, or legal residency documents to submit along with your application.
Once you have obtained all of the necessary information and filed your application, the SSA will schedule an interview with you about your claim. This initial interview can be done in person or by phone. Soon after your application is submitted, you may be scheduled to attend an appointment with a doctor chosen by the SSA to determine the severity of your physical or psychological conditions.
Everything takes time with the SSA, they have many cases to review and it is a government office. After you have submitted your application and all necessary documents, an initial decision will usually be made within 120 days. This isn’t your final decision, you will have several chances to appeal unfavorable decisions.
Many disability claimants, or people who file for disability, seek help with their disability application so they are not dealing with the long and complicated Social Security Disability process all alone. An experienced disability law firm can do a lot more than just help you get your application submitted, they will also help you understand what is happening with your case at each stage in the process, and even help with hearings and appeals if they become necessary.
We hope the information on this page will help you regardless of where you are in the process. If you have a question about your disability case that you don’t find answered in the resources linked to above, then contact us here or give us a call at (800) 584-3700.
For more information on our attorneys, please visit Our Attorneys page.
For more information on Social Security Disability, please see:
Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) FAQs
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) FAQs
Social Security Disability Links
Social Security Glossary