How Do You Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Apply for Social Security disability benefits by checking your eligibility, completing the application and providing necessary documentation. Make your application online on the official Social Security website, by phone or in person at a Social Security office after making an appointment.

  1. Assess your eligibility

    Apply for Social Security disability benefits if you are at least 18 years old, you are not receiving benefits, you cannot work due to a medical problem that is expected to last at least a year or until death, and a previous application has not been turned down within the last 60 days.

  2. Complete an application

    To complete an application for Social Security disability benefits, provide personal information, your Social Security number, your bank's routing number and your bank account number. You also need contact information for someone aware of your medical condition, details of your medical condition and treatment, details on your military service and employment during the previous 15 years, and information on any worker's compensation you have or plan to file for.

  3. Provide documentation

    Provide documents to prove your eligibility, including a birth certificate or another document proving birth, verification of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status, tax documents from the previous year, medical papers such as doctor's reports and medical records, and proof of compensation benefits you receive. Originals are required for all documents except tax and medical records. Either mail the documents or take them in person to a Social Security office. The documents are returned to you after examination.

Processing times for SSDI benefits range from three to five months, so it's important to provide the Social Security Administration with essential documentation and information when applying to speed up the process. Applications for benefits should always include the applicant's Social Security number and proof of age, the contact information for medical professionals who've treated the applicant, a list of medications the applicant is taking and their dosages, medical records, and test and laboratory results. The applicant should also include previous income information, such as W-2 forms and tax returns.

If the applicant wishes to include a request for benefits to family members, their Social Security numbers and proofs of age should be included. If a spouse wishes to qualify for benefits, proof of the marriage and information on former marriages need to be sent with the application.

After the application is completed, the applicant should receive an electronic or mail confirmation from the Social Security Administration. During the application review process, the SSA may request additional information that should be provided in a timely manner. Once the SSA reaches a decision, the applicant should receive a notification of the outcome by mail.