As of 2014, an adult who is unable to work due to a medical condition and who does not presently receive Social Security benefits can apply for Social Security disability benefits. The disability must be expected to last more than a year or result in death.
The federal definition of disability used to qualify for Social Security disability benefits is strict. Partial disability or short-term disability does not qualify. Further, the applicant cannot have been denied disability benefits in the last 60 days, and must meet one or two earnings tests: a “recent work” test depending on the age of onset of disability, and a “duration of work” test to demonstrate how long the person has worked. Certain blind workers only need to meet the duration-of-work test.
It is possible to apply in person at a local Social Security office, by telephone or online. During the application process, various documents and information are required to prove eligibility, including medical records, doctor's reports and test results as well as an Adult Disability Report that provides more detail about the person's medical and work history. After the application for disability benefits, there may be medical examinations or tests to determine eligibility for benefits.