Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

How Do I Apply For Disability - What Is The First Step?

If you have not been working or have had to drastically reduce the hours that you are working due to some mental or physical impairment, you should consider filing for disability. Social Security offers two disability programs for people who have been out unable to work for at least twelve months or are expected to be unable to work for twelve continuous months.

Social Security disability is based upon the work that you performed prior to becoming disabled (work earns disability insured status) and Supplemental Security Income disability is based upon need (meaning you must meet SSI income and resource limits).

Do you apply for SSD or SSI?

You apply for both disability programs simultaneously. If you meet the non-disability requirements for both SSI and SSDI, your disability claim will be sent as a concurrent claim. If you meet the non-disability criteria of just one of the programs, your disability claim will be sent as one type or the other. So how do you apply for disability?

The first step of the disability process is the initial disability interview. You can complete the interview in person or by phone with a claims representative at your local Social Security office. Also, there is now an application process for Social Security disability online.

At this time, it is still best to file your disability claim with your local Social Security office, either by phone or in person because there is no online application for Supplemental Security Income disability (SSI). Consequently, most disability applicants have to complete their application with a claims representative even if they file their application online.

Additionally, if you file with a claims representative, your application and disability report form (the form used to gather medical and work information) is completed while they interview you. All you have to do it sign your medical release forms, or sign and return your medical release forms to your local office if you complete your interview by phone.

Should you decide to use the online disability process, make sure to complete your disability form online as well and indicate whether or not you need to file for the need-based SSI disability program. If you indicate that you are not interested in filing for SSI, you may not have to speak to a claims representative if you complete your disability report online and return your medical release forms.

Once you file your application with Social Security, your disability claim will be sent to a state disability agency (disability determination services, known as DDS) that is responsible for making the medical determinations for both SSI and Social Security disability.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

How do I File and Apply for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits?
How Do I Find Out How My Disability Appeal Is Going?
How Do I Apply For Disability - What Is The First Step?
Will I Qualify For SSI and How Do I Get Approved?
How do I file for my children and spouse if I am Receiving SSDI?
Social Security Hearing- How do I Request one, how long will it take?
How do I apply for a Social Security disability widow’s claim?
How do I win disability benefits in North Carolina?
How Do I Know If I Qualify For Disability in North Carolina?
If I get disability for a physical condition, can I receive more if I also have a mental condition?

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability benefits, SSD and SSI
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it