HomeBenefitsHow To Apply For Social Security Disability Benefits

How To Apply For Social Security Disability Benefits

Benefits For Your Spouse

How to Apply for Social Security Disability

Benefits are payable to your spouse:

  • Age 62 or older, unless your spouse collects a higher Social Security benefit based on their earnings record. The benefit amount for your spouse is permanently reduced by a percentage, based on the number of months up to their full retirement age.
  • At any age if they are caring for your child under age 16 or who was disabled before age 22, and is entitled to benefits.

Applying For Social Security Disability Benefits

Once you have gathered the necessary information, you should contact the SSA to complete a disability application. The actual application can be filled out either at the Social Security office, over the phone or online.

When submitting your application for Social Security Disability benefits, you will need to complete the Social Security Adult Disability Report.

This report contains eleven separate sections and asks for information about your medical conditions, any work activity you may be performing, your education and training, medical treatments you have undergone, medications you are taking and other disability-related information.

Once the SSA receives your application for Social Security Disability benefits and all of the documentation required, they will begin to review your claim. You may, at this point, be asked to go for a consultative exam. This exam is paid for by the SSA.

The purpose of the exam is to evaluate the extent of your disability and whether or not your condition meets the Social Security Disability guidelines. It is very important that you show up for your exam.

Not undergoing the required consultative exam may result in a denial of your Social Security Disability benefits. While the findings of the consultative exam do play a part in the decision the SSA makes in regards to your disability application, statements from your treating physicians and objective medical evidence are given more weight in the determination process.

Iii: Who Receives Ssdi

Eligibility criteria are strict, and most SSDI applicants are rejected. Applicants for SSDI benefits must be

  • Insured for disability benefits .
  • Suffering from a severe, medically determinable physical or mental impairment that is expected to last 12 months or result in death, based on clinical findings from acceptable medical sources.
  • Unable to perform substantial gainful activity anywhere in the national economy regardless of whether such work exists in the area where the applicant lives, whether a specific job vacancy exists, or whether he or she would be hired.

Lack of education and low skills are considered for older, severely impaired applicants who cant realistically change careers but not for younger applicants.

There is a five-month waiting period for SSDI, but Supplemental Security Income may be available during that period for poor beneficiaries with little or no income and assets.

SSA denies applicants who are technically disqualified and sends the rest to state disability determination services for medical evaluation. Applicants denied at that stage may ask for a reconsideration by the same state agency, and then appeal to an administrative law judge at SSA. Roughly half of people who get an initial denial pursue an appeal.

SSA monitors disability decisions at all stages of the process. SSA conducts ongoing quality reviews at all stages of the application and appeal process. Many reviews occur before any benefits are paid, thus reducing errors.

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Hepatitis B And Qualifying For Benefits

When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, an adjudicator will examine your records and your condition against a catalogue of illnesses labelled as the SSA Blue Book. They will assess if your condition and its symptoms are consistent with the pre-existing conditions specified in the book and decide whether you are eligible for benefits.

The Blue Book is a compilation of illnesses and related conditions that could qualify an individual for Social Security Disability. Unfortunately, Hepatitis B does not have its own listing in the book. But, if you can demonstrate that a secondary condition due to Hepatitis B is listed in the Blue Book, you may still be able to receive disability benefits.

To qualify for disability benefits, you must show that your condition is serious enough to meet the criteria in the Blue Book. This means you must provide medical evidence that your condition is significant enough to fit the description in the Blue Book.

Suppose your condition is not listed in the Social Security Administrations Blue Book. In that case, you may still be able to get disability benefits by proving that you are incapable of doing any type of job.

This can be demonstrated through medical records, laboratory tests and a Residual Functional Capacity form.

Do You Qualify For Disability

How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits

The first step in the Social Security application process is determining whether you are eligible to apply for SSDI or SSI benefits based on the qualification criteria and strict definition of disability provided by the SSA.

For detailed information on eligibility requirements and SSA definitions of disability, please complete the free disability evaluation above.

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What Is The Social Security Disability 5

Under SSDI, employees win credits for the income that they earn every year. For every year, employees can earn up to four credits. The amount that you must earn to get one credit changes annually and goes up slightly as the average earnings level increases. As of 2023, you receive 1 credit for each $1,640 of earnings. The credits that you have once earned remain on your earnings record, even if there is a job change or you stop earning for a while.

Most people need a minimum of 40 work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits. The exact number of work credits that are needed depends on the applicants age and work history. However, at least 20 of those work credits must have been earned in 10 years immediately preceding your disability. Since you need to work for at least five years to gain 20 work credits, you must have worked for five out of ten years preceding your disability to qualify for SSDI benefits. This can be described as the Social Security Disability 5-year rule.

Younger workers have less stringent work requirements as compared to older workers but if you have not worked within the previous ten years, you are unlikely to qualify for SSDI benefits.

How To Apply For Social Security Disability Insurance

More than 8 million Americans collect disability benefits through Social Security.

Dan Avery


Dan is a writer on CNET’s How-To team. His byline has appeared in Newsweek, NBC News, The New York Times, Architectural Digest, The Daily Mail and elsewhere. He is a crossword junkie and is interested in the intersection of tech and marginalized communities.

The Social Security Administration provides disability payments to more than 8 million Americans, primarily through Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI. Applicants must be diagnosed with an injury or condition that prevents them from working for at least a year or is expected to result in their death.

Another form of disability benefit is Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, which is funded by the Treasury Department but administered through the SSA. It aids individuals whose financial resources are below specified limits.

Being approved for either program requires substantial evidence and the process can take a considerable amount of time, usually involving an in-person or phone interview. Here’s what you need to know to apply for Social Security disability benefits, including what is available and what conditions qualify.

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How Much Work Do You Need

In addition to meeting our definition of disability, you must have worked long enough and recently enough under Social Security to qualify for disability benefits.

Social Security work credits are based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. You can earn up to four credits each year.

The amount needed for a work credit changes from year to year. In 2022, for example, you earn one credit for each $1,510 in wages or self-employment income. When you’ve earned $6,040 you’ve earned your four credits for the year.

The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age when your disability begins. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year your disability begins. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.

For more information on whether you qualify, refer to How You Earn Credits.

Can You Do Any Other Type Of Work

Applying For Social Security Disability Benefits Near Retirement Age

If you cant do the work you did in the past, we look to see if there is other work you could do despite your medical impairment.

We consider your medical conditions, age, education, past work experience, and any transferable skills you may have. If you cant do other work, well decide you qualify for disability benefits. If you can do other work, well decide that you dont have a qualifying disability and your claim will be denied.

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Information About Family Members

  • Social Security numbers and proof of age for each family member who may qualify for benefits and
  • Proof of marriage, if your spouse is applying for benefits, as well as dates of prior marriages, if applicable.

If you don’t have all the documents you need, don’t delay filing for benefits. We will help you get the information you need.

Other Payments May Affect Your Disability Benefits

If you receive certain other government benefits, such as workers’ compensation, public disability benefits, or pensions based on work not covered by Social Security , the Social Security benefits payable to you and your family may be reduced.

For more information about how these benefits can affect your Social Security payments, please refer to the following publications:

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Benefits For Widows Or Widowers With Disabilities

If something happens to a worker, benefits may be payable to their widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse with a disability if the following conditions are met:

  • The widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse is between ages 50 and 60.
  • The widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse has a medical condition that meets our definition of disability for adults and the disability started before or within seven years of the worker’s death.

Widows, widowers, and surviving divorced spouses cannot apply online for survivors benefits. If they want to apply for these benefits, they should contact Social Security immediately at 1-800-772-1213 to request an appointment

To speed up the application process, complete an Adult Disability Report and have it available at the time of your appointment.

We use the same definition of disability for widows and widowers as we do for workers.

Is Your Condition Severe

Learn about how to apply for Social Security Disability benefits and ...

Your condition must significantly limit your ability to do basic work-related activities, such as lifting, standing, walking, sitting, or remembering for at least 12 months. If it does not, we will find that you do not have a qualifying disability.

If your condition does interfere with basic work-related activities, we go to Step 3.

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Benefits For Your Children

When you qualify for Social Security disability benefits, your children may also qualify to receive benefits on your record. Your eligible child can be your biological child, adopted child, or stepchild. A dependent grandchild may also qualify.

To receive benefits, the child must:

  • Be under age 18 or
  • Be 18-19 years old and a full-time student or

How Do I Apply For Social Security Disability Insurance

Less than half of disability applicants are accepted on their first try.

You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. You can apply online, by calling 800-772-1213 or in person at your local Social Security office. Whichever route you go, you’ll want to have the extensive documentation required at the ready — including detailed information about your condition and recent employment history.

To qualify for disability you cannot already be receiving Social Security benefits and must not have been denied disability benefits in the past 60 days. When you apply, be patient: A majority of disability claims are denied at first and the appeals process can take months — or even years — to resolve.

Even getting a preliminary decision on your application takes more than five months on average, according to AARP.

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The Basics About Disability Benefits

The SSDI program pays benefits to you and certain if you are insured. This means that you worked long enough and recently enough – and paid Social Security taxes on your earnings. The SSI program pays benefits to adults and children who meet our requirements for a qualifying disability and have limited income and resources.

While these two programs are different, the medical requirements are the same. If you meet the nonmedical requirements, monthly benefits are paid if you have a medical condition expected to last at least one year or result in death.

How To Apply Apply For Ssdi Or Ssi Benefits

Social Security Disability Benefits Online Application Guide


If you think you may be eligible for payments, you can apply for disability benefits online with the Social Security Administration.

If you think you may be eligible for payments, call the Social Security Administration at to file a claim or contact your local Social Security office.

In person+

If you think you may be eligible for payments, visit your local Social Security office. You should call first to make an appointment.

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Applying For Social Security Benefits

The SSDI application is available through the SSAs website. You can also use the online application to begin your SSI claim too.

If your loved one cannot apply on their own, you can fill out their application for them . The easiest way to apply for disability benefits is online through the SSAs website and all applications can now be submitted online.

Before you apply for disability benefits, it is crucial that you make sure you have all of your loved ones paperwork and medical records in order.

After you submit the initial application, it will usually take the SSA between 3 and 5 months in order to get back to you with a decision. You can call the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 to schedule an appointment or to discuss interview options.

If you are a caregiver and applying on behalf of a loved one with an illness, get a free case evaluation today.

Where To Apply: Ssa Offices By Region

In addition to its national headquarters in Woodlawn, Maryland, the Social Security Administration operates 10 regional offices overseeing 1300 field offices and 37 tele-service centers.

For detailed information on these regional offices and the areas that they service, please complete the above free evaluation to contact a lawyer or advocate practicing in your area.

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Required Forms For Applying For Service Retirement

You must apply for service retirement benefits before your PEERS retirement date by filing the Service Retirement Application and other required forms listed below. You need the free Adobe® Reader®to view these forms.

You can print these forms below, or contact us to receive copies by mail. We will acknowledge receipt of your forms.

How Long Will It Take To Process My Federal Retirement Application

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits with COPD

It takes around 60 days to process applications for common cases.

Your application could take longer if:

  • We need additional information from you or your former employing agency
  • Your retirement claim has special circumstances, like applying under disability provisions, a specific retirement law , or evaluating a court order
  • We need to contact you to make a benefit election, like a service credit deposit
  • We need to contact another agency, like the Social Security Administration, if a benefit from them impacts your claim

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Social Security Disability Insurance

For SSDI, the document requirements are considerably broader and the application is lengthier. Along with the usual personal data , youll need to provide extensive documentation of your medical history and treatment and file an Adult Disability Report.

The SSDI process also includes an interview, in person or by phone. Youll find detailed information in Social Securitys Adult Disability Starter Kit.

When you can file: There is no minimum age for SSDI but you must have done at least some work in which you acquired Social Security credits.

Where to file:Online, by phone or in person.

What To Do If Your Disability Claim Is Denied

If your disability claim is denied, you are not alone. Most disability claims are denied during the initial review. When your disability claim is denied, the SSA will notify you in writing. They will tell you why your claim was denied and how long you have so you can file an appeal. If you wait too long, you will not be able to appeal, and you will have to start your claim all over.

The letter will tell you while your claim was not approved, and you can talk with your attorney about that. Your lawyer will know what additional information is needed to show that you are disabled and to help you get your claim approved. You may be able to gather the needed documentation and evidence that Disability Determination Services needs to review to determine if you are disabled.

When you file your appeal, you will want to include any medical records or supporting documentation that was not previously submitted. The more information that you can provide, the more likely you will be able to get your claim approved. The disability examiner needs to be able to fully assess your situation and determine the severity of your medical issues. With the proper documentation, he or she can determine if you are able to work and earn a living.

Through this process, the judge should be able to determine what kind of work you can do â if you can work at all.

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