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Our most popular questions
Q. How do I apply for Social Security disability or SSI benefits?
A. SSA provides three ways for you to apply for Social Security disability benefits:
- By telephone.
- In person at a local Social Security office.
- Through the Internet.
To apply by phone or in person, call 1-800- 772-1213 to schedule an appointment.
If you want to use the Internet to apply, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability/adult.htm. If you want to apply for SSA’s other disability program — Supplemental Security Income (SSI) –you cannot complete an SSI application online but you can complete one of the necessary supporting documents, the Adult Disability Report, on the Internet.
Q. What forms do I need to complete to apply for disability benefits?
A. You must complete three forms to apply for disability benefits:
- A Social Security Benefit Application.
- An Authorization to Disclose Medical Records.
- An Adult Disability Report.
The Social Security Benefit Application submits your claim for benefits. The Authorization to Disclose Medical Records authorizes your medical providers to release your medical records. The Adult Disability Report collects detailed information about your current disability.
Q. Are there any tips I should keep in mind when I apply for disability benefits?
A. Here are two:
(1) Give SSA all the information it asks for in a straightforward way. Be truthful. Do not exaggerate or minimize your disability.
(2) When you complete the Disability Report explain how your medical impairment keeps you from working. If you’re under age 50, your explanation must show why you cannot do any job you have done in the past 15 years and why you cannot do an easy full-time job.
Q. When should I apply for disability benefits?
A. Unless you have an obvious long-term disability, the best time to apply for Social Security disability benefits is 6 to 9 months after you stop working. You do not have to wait a full 12 months from the time you become disabled to apply.
Q. How long will I have to wait for a decision on my application?
A. The length of time it takes to receive a decision on your disability claim is usually from three
to five months. It can vary depending on several factors, but primarily on:
- The nature of your disability;
- How quickly SSA can get medical evidence from your doctor or other medical source;
- Whether SSA decides you need a medical examination; and
- If your claim is randomly selected for quality assurance review of the decision.