How to file for SSDI benefitsApplying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can be a complicated process. However, you do have more than one way to apply. It's important to understand the process so that you complete the application properly, avoid delays in getting a decision on whether you qualify for benefits, and reduce the likelihood that your application will be denied because you didn't complete it correctly.

When to Apply for SSDI Benefits

As soon as it's apparent that you have a disability and are unable to work, apply for SSDI benefits right away. You won't be entitled to benefits until the sixth full month of disability. This waiting period begins the first full month after the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines that your disability began. To be considered disabled, you must meet these requirements:

  • You must be unable to perform any substantial work—also referred to as substantial gainful activity—due to your medical condition.
  • Your medical condition must have lasted or is expected to last for at least one year, or is expected to result in your death.

How to Apply for SSDI Benefits

Your first step when applying for SSDI benefits is to obtain the SSA Adult Disability Starter Kit, which is found on the agency's website. It provides you with a fact sheet of helpful information about how to apply, a checklist of information and documents you'll need for the process, and a medical and job worksheet that you need to prepare for your interview or to complete the online disability report. There are two ways that you can apply for benefits:

  • Online. You can complete your Social Security Disability application and Adult Disability and Work History Report online. You should complete the worksheet prior to filling out the Disability Report so you have the information you need. You also want to review and gather the information on the checklist for online disability application before starting the process. An appointment with a representative at your local SSA office will be scheduled to review your information, but completing these forms online can cut the time necessary for your appointment significantly.
  • Phone. If you don't want to apply online, call the SSA’s toll-free number: 800-772-1213. A representative will schedule a phone or in-person appointment at your local SSA office to complete your application. This appointment will take at least an hour. You'll still need to obtain the information and documents on the interview checklist prior to your appointment.

Once you apply for SSDI benefits, it will take approximately three-to-five months for the SSA to notify you of its decision on your application for benefits. Unfortunately, many legitimate claims are denied. If your application is denied, you'll need to file an appeal.

Do you have other questions about applying for SSDI benefits? Has your application been denied? Our experienced Social Security attorneys are ready to answer your questions and assist with your appeal. To learn more, call our office today to schedule a free initial consultation.