What's the Best Way to Apply for Social Security Disability or SSI?

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Question

I have chronic asthma, diabetes, and back pain and can no longer do my job. How should I apply for disability? I want to take the quickest, easiest way to get benefits.

Answer

There are currently three methods available to potential disability applicants:

  • filing for disability online (SSDI only)
  • calling the Social Security office to set up an appointment to apply, and
  • walking into the local Social Security office without an appointment.

To get things started and apply for disability benefits, calling is generally the best option. Whether you call or walk in to an office, you will usually be given an appointment to be interviewed at a later date and time -- therefore, calling ahead to apply will generally be less frustrating. (Walk-in visits to the Social Security office can mean hours of waiting before one is seen.) After an appointment to apply for disability benefits has been made, you will either be interviewed in person at the local office, or, sometimes more conveniently, over the phone.

Applying online can leave out what is sometimes essential face-to-face communication and the opportunity to ask questions. Applicants who need basic assistance in completing their paperwork are encouraged to apply in person.

However, if you are able to use online applications easily and are able to educate yourself about the disability process, you may feel comfortable applying online. To learn about the best way to fill out the various forms required to apply for Social Security or SSI disability, you may want to get a copy of Nolo's Guide to Social Security Disability, by former SSA medical consultant David Morton.

Learn more about Filing for Social Security Disability.

Updated by: , J.D.

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