How To Apply For Disability Benefits
This page provides instructions on how to apply for disability benefits. If applying in person you can use our Social Security office locator to find a location near you so you can call and setup an appointment. It is not required, but they recommend it as it could save you time.
Who can apply for disability benefits online?
You can use the online application to apply for disability benefits if you:
- Are age 18 or older
- Are not currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record
- Are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death
- Have not been denied disability benefits in the last 60 days. If your application was recently denied, their Internet Appeal application is a starting point to request a review of the determination they made
- You can now also file for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) online but only if you meet certain requirements. You are eligible to file online for SSI if you:
- Are between the ages of 18 and 65
- Have never been married
- Aren't blind
- Are a U.S. citizen residing in one of the fifty states, District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands
- Haven't applied for or received SSI benefits in the past
- Are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance at the same time as your SSI claim. Find out if you are eligible to receive Social Security Disability Benefits
Once you finish the online process, a Social Security representative will contact you for any additional information needed for the applications. You can also schedule an appointment with a local Social Security office to file an application. Call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday or contact your local Social Security office.
Applying for disability benefits
Here is what you need to do to apply for benefits online:
- Print and review the Adult Disability Checklist
- It will help you gather the information you need to complete the application
- Complete the Disability Benefit Application
What information do I need to apply for benefits?
They suggest that you have the following information at hand. It will make completing the application much easier.
Information About You
Information About Your Medical Condition
- Your date and place of birth and Social Security number
- The name, Social Security number and date of birth or age of your current spouse and any former spouse. You should also know the dates and places of marriage and dates of divorce or death (if appropriate)
- Names and dates of birth of your minor children
- Your bank or other financial institution's Routing Transit Number and the account number, if you want the benefits electronically deposited
Information About Your Work
- Name, address and phone number of someone they can contact who knows about your medical conditions and can help with your application
- Detailed information about your medical illnesses, injuries or conditions:
- Names, addresses, phone numbers, patient ID numbers and dates of treatment for all doctors, hospitals and clinics
- Names of medicines you are taking and who prescribed them
- Names and dates of medical tests you have had and who sent you for them
- The amount of money earned last year and this year
- The name and address of your employer(s) for this year and last year
- A copy of your Social Security Statement
- The beginning and ending dates of any active U.S. military service you had before 1968
- A list of the jobs that you had in the 15 years before you became unable to work and the dates you worked at those jobs
- Information about any workers compensation, black lung, and/or similar benefits you filed, or intend to file for These benefits can:
- Be temporary or permanent in nature
- Include annuities and lump sum payments that you received in the past
- Be paid by your employer or your employer's insurance carrier, private agencies, or Federal, State or other government or public agencies
- Be referred to as:
- Workers Compensation
- Black Lung Benefits
- Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation
- Civil Service (Disability) Retirement
- Federal Employees Retirement
- Federal Employees Compensation
- State or local government disability insurance benefits
- Disability benefits from the military
What documents do I need to provide?
They may ask you to provide documents to show that you are eligible, such as:
- Birth certificate or other proof of birth
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you were not born in the United States
- U.S. military discharge paper(s) if you had military service before 1968
- W-2 forms(s) and/or self-employment tax returns for last year
- Medical evidence already in your possession. This includes medical records, doctors reports, and recent test results
- Award letters, pay stubs, settlement agreements or other proof of any temporary or permanent workers compensation type benefits you received
Mailing Your Documents
If you mail any documents to them, you must include the Social Security number so that they can match them with the correct application. Do not write anything on the original documents. Please write the Social Security number on a separate sheet of paper and include it in the mailing envelope along with the documents.
If you do not want to mail these documents, you may bring them to a Social Security office. Do not mail foreign birth records or any documents from the Department of Homeland Security, formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service, especially those you are required to keep with you at all times. These documents are extremely difficult, time-consuming and expensive to replace if lost. Some cannot be replaced. Instead, bring them to a Social Security office where they will examine them and return them to you.
Advantages of applying online
Their online disability application process offers several advantages. You can:
- Start your disability claim immediately. There is no need to wait for an appointment
- Apply from the convenience of your own home or on any computer
- Stop and return to your saved application before submission
- Avoid trips to a Social Security office
- Complete the process online even if you live outside the United States
What happens after I apply?
After they receive your online application, they will:
- Provide confirmation of your application, either electronically or by mail
- Review the application
- Contact you if they need more information or documentation
- Inform you if other family members may be able to receive benefits on your record, or if you may be able to receive benefits on another person's record, such as your spouse or your parent.
- Process your application
- Mail their decision to you
If you do not want to or cannot apply for disability benefits online, then you can apply: