How to apply for disability benefits.

The process to apply for disability assistance from the government can be long and complicated. In fact, the majority of the applications submitted to the social security department for programs such as SSDI are denied by the Disability Determination Services department. While there are no guarantees, there are some steps to take that can both improve your chances for success and also accelerate the process.

The most recent data from the federal government shows that there are over 10 million Americasn receiving some form of compensation for a disability, such as cash payments from SSDI. Over 100 billion dollars is paid out per year in financial support to these individuals. While the benefits are not easy to obtain, learn more on how the process and programs work below.

In order to qualify, some or all of the following terms need to be met.

  • The applicant can’t be able to work due to their disability.
  • Supporting documentation needs to be provided, as indicated below.
  • In order to collect SSDI, the person needs to have worked at least 5 of the last 10 years and be 65 years of age or younger.
  • The medical issue or disability needs to be expected to impact the applicant for at least 12 months if not longer.
  • SSI disability is a form of payment that is for low income households or those over the age of 65.
  • Of course a doctor or medical professional needs to provide solid evidence to support your filing.

Apply on your own or use a professional

One important decision to make is whether you want to apply on your own or use the service of a professional, whom are often called advocates. In some cases a lawyer or paralegal will be used by a company in order to help someone apply.

The goods news most disability lawyers and advocates do not charge clients a fee unless the process is successful. So they work on a contingency basis, which greatly reduces the risks to the person seeking help. It in effect eliminates any application costs or expenses for the disabled individual. In many cases this type of contingency structure is often required per federal government regulations. So be sure that the professional won’t charge you a fee for their assistance. Look for someone who will only take a portion of what they are able to earn the applicant. Read more on advocates.




If you do decide to apply on your own, then note the process is complicated, long, and can be drawn out. When completing the application, it is critical to properly reflect the severity of your disability. Medical records are key, as well as proof as to how and why it impacts your ability to work or hold a job.

You can complete an application online, over the phone (see the number below) or stop by your local social security office and make an appointment. Often times meeting someone face to face at a local office may be the most effective. However if you do decide to use the services of an advocate, be sure to get their input as well as they will often handle this step for you, on your behalf. No matter what is selected, an interview will be required.

If you are applying for SSDI - Social Security Disability Insurance, the individual needs to be unable to work because of some form or either psychologically or physically restrictive disability. The other program available is SSI, and this is financial aid for low-income qualified individuals who are at least age 65, maybe blind, and/or disabled. Both of these will offer cash assistance to the beneficiary to pay for bills or basic needs such as rent, food, and even clothing.

Examples of information needed when filing for a disability

The social security department, that processes the applications, will require the following information. Applicants will need at least the following, and maybe more.

  • Proof of age and social security number.
  • The dosage as well as names of the prescription medications they are taking, if applicable.
  • All contact information on their doctors, hospitals, community clinics, or caseworkers that treated the individual. All medical records, including lab and test results, are needed from these sources too.
  • Work history is needed when applying, including your latest tax information, W-2, and copies of federal and state tax returns.
  • Information on all family members, including spouses and others in the home.





It can take up to six months, or longer, to receive either an approval or denial notice from the Disability Determination Services after you file. A tip here is that using an advocate as mentioned above can accelerate the process. In short, using another party to help will ensure everything is completed properly, as that is usually a major hold up. In addition, a professional will often have the contact information and relationships with some of the key members of your local social security office. So they can help ensure forms are reviewed timely.

As noted, over 50% to 60% of applications are denied. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Some of the more common ones include inadequate medical documentation, technicalities, not completing the application properly, lack of documentation, and not representing the disability properly.

Since so many people are denied, when applying, a professional advocate can often show you how to complete the application and ensure all of your documentation is in order. So this is another benefit of using them. Also keep in mind that if your first application is approved, this will reduce the time required for someone to receive their first SSDI disability payment. So you will get your first government check much earlier.




Lets say you apply and are denied. First of all, you should be provided from the government the reason why it was rejected. There is an appeal process in place as well. It needs to be used timely though, as the timeframe involved will expire. In fact, because such a large percentage of denials occur on the first application, this appeal process is very often used. Remember that everyone has the right to request that their application be reviewed again by the social security administration. Read more disability appeal process.

To apply, call or visit your local social security office. Or dial 1-800-772-1213 for more information or referrals. People should apply for disability as soon as possible. If they put this off, it could lower their chances for approval.





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