How to apply

If you become disabled, you should apply for benefits immediately, as the application process and waiting period could take some time depending on your individual case. Usually, the wait for a decision on your case will take 3 to 4 months, but an initial rejection can tack on an additional 4 months, if you decide to pursue a reconsideration.

To apply, you must call or visit your local Social Security Office, which you can find by calling 1-800-772-1213, or using the online SSA office locator. Once you meet with Social Security representatives, they will determine whether you qualify for SSI or SSDI.

Frustratingly, 60% of disability applications are denied the first time, but appealing the decision is possible if the request is submitted within 60 days of receiving the denial letter.

Since the application process could take a while, you can hasten it by gathering the following documents beforehand. Having a wealth of information to give to a representative will also help your chances of being approved for benefits.

  • A list of your employers and job titles held
  • A copy of your recent tax return
  • Pay stubs from the past six months, if you have them
  • A letter from your current physician that states that you will be unable to work for a year or longer
  • Medical doctors from doctors, hospitals, therapists, etc.
  • Any recent laboratory results
  • The names of medications that you are currently taking