How to Apply for Disability - Where do I go to apply?

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 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-827) to sign along with a self addressed postage-paid envelope 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 file for Social Security Disability or SSI. The online disability application 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. The SSA.GOV page currently states "Visiting our Apply Online for Disability Benefits website to start the disability application process online. You may be eligible to apply for SSI through the online disability application."

Skip the online process?

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. There are many instances in which claimants have misunderstood how long they have to complete the online process once it has been started and, as a result, have had their claims terminated before they even got to the evaluation stage involving a DDS disability examiner.

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.

What is the best way to apply for disability?

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.

Additional information:

What Happens When You File an SSI or Social Security Disability Application?

What happens if my SSI or Social Security Disability Application is denied?

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

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Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

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Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

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Related pages:

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What happens after a Social Security Disability or SSI Claim has been taken and is Pending
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These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

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?