Social Security Disability: Application for Benefits

How do you apply for disability benefits? Where should your start your claim? Find out here.

The application for Social Security disability (SSDI) or SSI disability is very easy to initiate and file.

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 Administration website. 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 at Your Local Office

For most disability applicants, the safest and easiest method of filing a disability application will be to contact the Social Security office closest to where you live and inform 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.

Disability Application

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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