How to File for Social Security Disability

If you're eligible for Social Security disability (as opposed to SSI), you can file your application online.

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It used to be that, to file for disability, a Social Security or SSI disability claimant had to call the SSA (Social Security Administration), request that an application be taken for disability benefits, and then wait to be interviewed, either over the phone at a later date, or in person at the Social Security office.

To file for disability today, these options still apply. In fact, for many individuals who need to file for disability, a phone interview is convenient and, to others, an office interview may be more comfortable. Many applicants like to have the assistance of an SSA field representative to fill out the application.

However, a third option does exist today for the individual who needs to file an SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) claim: to file for disability benefits online. 

Filing for Disability Benefits Online

How do you file for disability online? You simply go to the Social Security Administration's website ( and click the link that says "Apply online for disability benefits." From there, you will be led to a web page that allows you to get the application process started.

Once you've completed a disability application online, you'll probably want to contact the Social Security office nearest to where you live. You don't have to do this, but it may be a good idea if you have any questions that need to be answered or need to have some issues clarified. Even if you don't contact Social Security, an SSA claims rep will contact you if he or she has any questions to ask about your disability application.

It may also be a good idea to call your Social Security office simply to confirm that your electronic application was actually received. After all, anyone who has ever sent anything online knows that not everything that is transmitted online actually arrives at its proper destination.

Fore more information, see our article on the disability application.

Get Ready to Appeal

Of course, completing the necessary steps to file for disability is only the beginning. Getting an initial answer on a Social Security or SSI disability claim can easily take a number of months. And at the end of that time, most claimants will find that their case for benefits has been denied.

How many cases get denied? The numbers can vary significantly from state to state, but, nationwide, almost seven out of ten disability cases are turned down at the initial application stage. What this means for the average disability claimant is that, to eventually win their disability benefits, they will need to file one or more appeals for SSI or SSDI. In most cases, you will need to appear at a disability hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) at some point. But a disability hearing doesn't usually occur until at least one year, sometimes two, after the initial application is filed.

You can file an appeal online or in person by filling out a request for appeal. For more information, see our disability denials and appeals section.