An individual's physical or mental disability can significantly limit his or her ability to earn an adequate living. Two federal programs, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI), provide monetary benefits to those who are unable to work because of an ongoing medical condition. To be eligible for SSDI or SSI benefits, you must have a disabling medical condition that has lasted for 12 months or is likely to result in death.
This article explains how to file for Social Security Disability benefits (either SSDI or SSI). See "Social Security Disability" for a complete index of FindLaw articles on this topic.
Information You Will Need
Before you apply for SSDI or SSI benefits, typically completed online, you will need to gather the following documents and information:
You will need the following information for your disability report:
How to Apply for Social Security Disability Online
Once you have gathered all of the pertinent information, you may begin the application process. SSA encourages applicants to apply for benefits online, which eliminates the need for an appointment.
The application consists of three sections:
Those applying for SSI benefits on behalf of a disabled child may also apply online through a similar process (see "Apply for Disability Benefits - Child" for more information).
Applying for Benefits by Telephone or In Person
If you choose not to use the online application form, you may call 1-800-772-1213 (TDY 1-800-325-0778 for the hearing impaired) or schedule an appointment at your local Social Security office.
You may be asked to show the following documents in order to prove your eligibility (also, refer to the "Information You Will Need" section, above):
While you most likely will not need help from legal counsel for the application process, some cases are more complicated than others. A skilled attorney will be able to help you secure the benefits you're entitled to. Find a Social Security disability lawyer in your area if you need more help learning how to file a Social Security disability claim.
Contact a qualified social security lawyer to assist in your social security disability matter.