Social Security Disability: Application for Benefits

There are several ways to apply for SSDI or SSI disability benefits.

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The application for Social Security disability (SSDI) or SSI disability is very easy to initiate and file. This article shows you how to apply for Social Security benefits in person, over the phone, or online.

Starting Your Application Online

For SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), you have the option of getting your application for disability benefits started by going online to the Social Security online filing page. SSDI is for workers who have paid Social Security taxes into the system for the required number of years.

Most people cannot apply online for SSI disability benefits (SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income, for those with low income and assets). If you are or have been married, have applied for SSI in the past, are applying for blindness or low vision, or are applying for SSI for a child, you cannot apply online. In addition, only those SSI applicants who are also applying for SSDI can apply online.

Even if you are eligible to apply online, you may want to apply in person so that you have an opportunity to ask questions.

Starting Your Child's Application Online

If you are applying for SSI for your child, there are two steps: the Application for SSI and the Child Disability Report. You can start the disability process by completing the Childhood Disability Report online. After you submit the report online, you'll be contacted by a Social Security representative, who will complete your child's application for SSI with you over the phone. You can start the Child Disability Report here.

Starting at Your Local Office

Like many disability applicants, you may be most comfortable filing a disability application by contacting the Social Security office closest to where you live and informing that office that you wish to schedule an appointment to apply for disability. Whether or not your disability application will be for Social Security disability or SSI can be determined by the Social Security office.

Once you have informed the Social Security office that you wish to apply for disability benefits, an appointment will be scheduled for you to be interviewed. This interview may be conducted in person at the Social Security office, or over the phone. If you choose, or are requested, to have a phone interview, all of the necessary paperwork will be mailed to your home. You can also call the national Social Security office at 800-772-1213. If you are hard of hearing, you can call TTY 800-325-0778.

Disability Application Forms

There are several forms you'll need to file if you are using the paper application, depending on whether you qualify for SSDI or SSI. A Social Security field representative can help you fill them out.

To apply for SSDI, you'll need to fill out Form SSA-16-BK, Application for Disability Insurance Benefits and Form SSA-3368-BK, Adult Disability Report.

To apply for SSI, you'll need to fill out Form SSA-8000-BK, Application for Supplemental Security Income, plus either Form SSA-3368-BK, Adult Disability Report or Form SSA-3820-BK, Disability Report-Child.

Learn more about the disability forms you'll need to file.

Next Steps

To learn more about how the SSA will determine whether you are disabled, read about the Social Security disability evaluation process.

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