If you become injured or suffer from a condition that makes it impossible for you to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. There are a variety of methods by which you can apply for benefits.
First, you can make an appointment to meet with someone or just show up at your local Social Security office. (Please note that due to the Coronavirus, Social Security offices may be closed, require an appointment, or have limited hours. Therefore, you should always call your local office prior to traveling to it.) You can also call the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) toll-free number at 1.800.772.1213; if you are hard of hearing or deaf, call the toll-free TTY number instead at 1.800.325.0778. The line is open Monday through Friday from 7AM to 7PM.
Additionally, many people are able to apply for benefits online. You can file an online application if you: 1) are age 18 or older; 2) are not currently receiving any benefits on your own Social Security record; 3) are unable to work because of a medication condition that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous 12 months or will result in your death; and 4) have not previously been denied disability benefits in the last 60 days. You may also file an appeal online if your initial application was denied for medical reasons.
In order to apply for benefits online, you should first review the SSA’s Adult Disability Checklist. You should also have all the information regarding your identity, medical condition, and work history available. Then you can complete the Disability Benefit Application and the Medical Release Form.
You will need to provide certain documentation to prove your eligibility for benefits to Social Security, including but not limited to the following: birth certificate or other proof of birth; W-2 forms or self-employment tax returns from the previous year; United States military discharge papers, if applicable; medical evidence currently in your possession, such as doctor reports, test results, and medical records; and award letters, settlement agreements, pay stubs, or other proof of any additional temporary or permanent benefits you are receiving.
There are numerous advantages to apply for benefits online if you can. You can start your application immediately and pause and resume later if you need to. You can save on travel time, mileage, and gas because you won’t have to travel to a physical SSA office.
If you decide to mail in your SSDI application, be sure that the information you send includes your Social Security number so that the SSA can match the documents to the correct application. Do NOT write anything on original documents you send to the SSA. And do not mail any original foreign birth records or documents from the Department of Homeland Security, especially documents that you are required to have on your person at all times.
The exception to online disability benefits application comes if you are applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. You can only apply for SSI benefits if you meet the following criteria: 1) you are between the ages of 18 and 65; 2) you are not blind; 3) you have never been married; 4) you are a United States citizen who resides in 1 of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands; 5) you have not previously applied for or received SSI benefits in the past; and 6) you are applying for SSDI benefits at the same time.