How to Apply for Social Security Disability and SSI


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Who can get Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (DIB)?

Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, also called DIB, SSD, or Title 2 benefits, are for any disabled person who can no longer work, but who has the required history of working. The disabled person's spouse, dependent children and parents, and even a divorced spouse might also be able to get DIB. This program is an insurance program while a person works he or she pays money into the Social Security system and is eligible to get benefits if he or she becomes disabled and can no longer work.


Who can get Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

SSI, also called Title 16, benefits are for any person who is blind, disabled or elderly (65 or over) and who meets certain income and resource rules. You do not need to have a work history. The income rules depend on your living arrangements and whether you apply as a single person or couple. Resources include cash, savings, investments and valuables. But they do not include a needed car, your home, ordinary belongings, or some life insurance policies.


When should I apply for the DIB and SSI programs?

Apply as soon as possible after disability occurs. You do not need to wait 12 months to apply. An application for DIB may also be filed after the death of a disabled worker. You must apply within three months of the worker's death. If the claim is approved, back payments may be made for some months before the worker died.


Where do I apply for Social Security programs?

You can apply at your local Social Security office, by calling 1-800-772-1213, or going to on the internet.


What evidence should I include with my application?

To get SSI or DIB, you must have medical evidence that shows you have some physical or mental impairment(s) that makes you unable to work. Medical evidence includes doctor or hospital reports, chart notes, test results, and letters. The more medical evidence you have the better chance you will have of winning benefits. List all the medical evidence that you have when you apply.


What happens after I apply?

The SSA will contact your doctors and request records. They also may send you to a doctor for an evaluation. Whenever possible you should try to take copies of your medical records to the doctor because the doctor will usually have no records of your medical history.


What happens if I'm found to be eligible for benefits?

If you are found eligible for DIB, you will get benefits beginning 5 full months after you became disabled, but only for a maximum of 12 months before you applied for benefits. If you are eligible for SSI, you will get benefits back the first day of the month after the month in which you applied, or later if Social Security believes your disability began after you applied. If you were getting General Assistance you may have to pay back the state out of your retroactive benefit check.

Additional Resources

Online Application for Disability Benefits

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