Applying for disability benefits from the federal government through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs can be a daunting task. Here is a brief overview of how the application process works and what you can expect after you’ve applied.
There are several ways to apply, and much information required. You can apply for SSDI or SSI using the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) online application, by telephone (1-800-772-1213) or by making an appointment to visit your local Social Security office. (To find your local office, click here.)
The SSA recommends that applicants assemble a host of information prior to applying, but if it is going to take a while to get your hands on some of the documents, it’s better to apply and then obtain the required information. According to the SSA’s website, you should assemble:
- Medical records
- Workers’ compensation information
- Names and dates of birth for your minor children and spouse
- Dates of marriages and divorces
- Checking and savings account routing numbers
- Emergency contact information
As part of the application process, you should also have detailed information about your disabling condition(s); names, addresses and phone numbers for all medical personnel or facilities that have treated you; the names of all prescription medicines used to treat your condition(s); and a detailed job history covering the last 15 years. If you are applying for SSI, you should be prepared to provide additional financial information about your family’s income and assets. If you apply on the phone or online, you will need to send the SSA additional supporting documentation and to prove U.S. citizenship or residence. Once the application is complete, the SSA will forward it to a state disability agency for processing and to make a decision about whether you are eligible for benefits.