SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
Social Security Disability and SSI Questions and Answers
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
More questions about SSD and SSI
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
How to Apply for Disability - Where do I go to apply?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
Technically speaking, you do not actually have to go anywhere to file a social security disability application. If you are unable to visit a social security field office, or just do not feel comfortable going to an office, you can apply for disability by phone or in some cases online.
Applying for disability over the phone
If you wish to do a phone disability application, you should contact your local Social Security office to set up an appointment for a Social Security and/or an SSI disability claim (some individuals will have concurrent claims, meaning claims for both SSD and SSI simultaneously).
In such instances, a claims representative will complete your disability application as well as the necessary disability medical forms. They will mail you a medical release form (form SSA-847) to sign along with a self addressed postage-paid envelop for the return of the medical release form. Sometimes Social Security needs additional proof documents, especially if you are filing for SSI disability benefits. They will generally provide you with a list of documents they need and also provide a postage paid envelope for you to return the documents. Once they have reviewed your documents, they will return them to you.
Applying for disability online
If you wish to apply for your disability online, you can only file for Social Security disability at this time, not SSI. The online disability applications process requires that a claims representative contact you to complete an SSI disability application if you wish to file. In other words, an SSI claim is not considered to be officially taken without the prospective claimant being contacted; whereas an SSD application can be initiated online by the claimant entirely on their own.
However, since a high percentage of disability claims are concurrent (meaning that they involve both Social Security Disability and SSI) and since claimants will have no way of knowing in advance which program or programs will apply to their case, it may simply be more practical to bypass the online filing process and directly contact a local Social Security office.
If you file online, make sure to complete your “disability medical report” online as well. Unfortunately, you will need to print, sign, and mail a medical release form to your local Social Security office in order to complete your disability application.
Currently, the medical release form is one of the few forms that still require a pen and ink signature to be valid. The reason for this is that medical release forms are used to get medical information that is covered by strict privacy laws.
Currently, it is probably better for you to apply for disability by phone or do an in-person disability interview, because it allows Social Security to get all the necessary information at the time of your disability interview.
While you still have to mail in a medical release form if you file by phone, it is still much more convenient than waiting for Social Security to re-contact you for an SSI application and in some cases to get your medical information.
Whether you file online or by phone, it is imperative that you return your signed medical release form within thirty days of filing your disability claim. If Social Security does not receive your medical release form, your disability claim may be denied for failure to cooperate. This means that your disability claim will never be sent to a disability examiner for a medical disability decision (meaning your records will not be gathered and evaluated).
Applying for disability in person
An in person interview at your local Social Security office is the most reliable method to apply for disability with Social Security.
The claims representative can evaluate your eligibility for Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability at the time of your disability interview. They will complete all the necessary disability forms for you and you can sign your medical release form during this interview as well.
This means your disability claim will be ready to be sent to a state disability agency the same day (the agency is known in most states as DDS, or disability determination services) with no waiting on the mail or for a “re-contact” from Social Security to complete the required disability forms.
What Happens When You File an SSI or Social Security Disability Application?
What happens if my SSI or Social Security Disability Application is denied?
Return to: SSDRC, or the Social Security Disability Questions page