Review the required information before filling out the application or making an appointment at your local Social Security office.
Social Security recommends starting the disability application online. It speeds up the approval process, which can take three to five months.
In order to be considered disabled by Social Security, you must meet all of the following criteria:
Unable to do substantial work because of medical conditions
Medical conditions must last at least 1 year, or may result in death
Under age 62
Have work history based on age when disability began, or using the work history of a parent or spouse
Disabling impairment could strike at any age. Social Security looks at any gainful work at the time of becoming disabled, as well as how long you worked before becoming disabled. The required work duration derives from age at the time of becoming disabled.
Second, you could apply in person by first calling Social Security at 1(800)772-1213 and setting up an in-person appointment at your local Social Security office.
Reach a special toll-free line for hearing impaired callers at TTY 1-800-325-0778.
You’ll need to bring several documents and other pieces of information in order to make the most out of that in-person appointment.
Lastly, you can apply by phone first calling the Social Security phone number, and setting an appointment for a telephone interview.
Either by phone or in person, Social Security will send you a Disability Starter Kit to prepare you for your disability claims interview.
The interview itself take about an hour to complete. Even if you apply online, you will need either an in-person appointment at your local Social Security office or a phone appointment with a representative to review your case.
Advantages of Applying for Social Security Disability Online
When you apply for disability online, significant advantages are:
Complete it at home
Start the application process immediately
No need to wait for a face-to-face appointment
No time on the phone with Social Security
Can complete online even if not living in the US at the time
When you also create a my Social Security account, you are able to do many other helpful tasks, such as:
Apply for other types of benefits
Apply to get Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs
Request a replacement Medicare card
Request a replacement Social Security card
Change direct deposit information for benefits
Get replacement tax forms
View your Social Security statement
Verify benefits and earnings
Can someone help you fill out a Social Security Disability application?
Given the nature of disability, the Social Security Administration understands that a person may need help applying for disability benefits.
Whenever conducting business with Social Security, you have the right to your choice of representation. The person helping an applicant can be a relative, friend, paralegal, attorney, employer, or a fellow member of an organization or advocacy group.
Several factors that you and the person helping you complete the application should know:
Information about the person assisting with the form may be gathered
Questions must be answered as the applicant would answer them
The applicant must “sign” the application (electronic signatures apply too)
If the applicant is not with the representative completing the form, or is unable to sign the application when completed, SSA will mail the representative a form to verify their signature.
While unnecessary for a person assisting to be a legal representative, an applicant can officially appoint someone to do business with the SSA on their behalf. In these cases, they will need to fill out the SSA-1696-U4 (Appointment of Representative).
Review the Adult Disability Checklist Before Starting
By preparing, you can gather information to quickly complete the application.
By signing the medical release form, you allow Social Security to access your medical records from your doctors in order to approve your disability case.
Medical records are an important part of the determination process. Your doctor’s office plays a role in relaying information to Social Security about your medical conditions and treatments, as well as the ability to do work-related activities.
With respect to your medical conditions, Social Security asks your doctor about work-related abilities include walking, sitting, lifting and carrying objects, as well as remembering instructions.
Your doctors do not decide if you’re disabled, your state’s Disability Determination Services office does. Once given permission by the medical release form, they communicate with your doctors to assess your case.
If your doctors can’t provide enough information to get your case approved, then Social Security will set up a medical exam. Fortunately, Social Security pays for the exam itself and even some of the related travel costs. Typically, they will ask your own doctor, but another provider can give the medical exam.
What happens after submitting the application?
After you are finished with the application and all applicable forms, you will submit it to Social Security.