Apply For Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits

Free-Photos / Pixabay

The Truth About Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits In 2019.

There was a time—way back in 1999—when between half and two-thirds of Social Security Disability Insurance applications were approved.

Today, that fraction has dropped to about one third. Meanwhile, the number of applications has risen dramatically.

In 1999, about 1.2 million people applied for SSDI benefits. During 2010, almost 3 million requests were processed.

In total, approximately 4.6 percent of Americans aged between 18 and 64 receive SSDI benefits. That’s around one in 12.

Get Your Application Approved The First Time

Assuming you have a disability that should qualify for SSDI benefits, there’s a two-part answer:

Apply for social security disability insurance right away.

Be prepared.

Points To Consider Before Applying For Disability

Everything said so far is pretty much moot if you’re past your federally mandated retirement age and eligible to receive Social Security retirement benefits.

You can’t get full SSDI benefits and full retirement together.

The most you’ll receive is the amount you would get under the Social Security retirement benefit rules if you didn’t have a disability.

This holds true whether you take benefits at age 62 or wait for your full retirement benefit.

However, there are two important exceptions.

Not Eligible Because Of “Working Points”?

If haven’t paid enough into the Social Security Trust Fund, then you might still be eligible for SSDI benefits and/or Supplemental Security Income benefits.

SSI and SSDI benefits for people not eligible to collect Social Security retirement benefits is a subject for another post.

For now, it’s something to consider because, for some people, it can be a better option than Social Security retirement benefits.

Don’t Wait To Apply For Disability

You might not feel like it, but you should apply for SSDI benefits as soon as possible after you become disabled.

It takes six months for the benefits to kick in after it’s determined on what date you became disabled.

Do Your Homework And Be Prepared

The Social Security Administration has worked to make the SSDI application process as easy as possible, but it remains a challenge.

It’s best to take advantage of any resources you can find, including the information you’ll find at and an attorney or other experts who deal with SSDI every day.

You can get assistance by calling toll free 866-782-1744 for a free case review from an attorney who specializes in social security.

For information that can help you before and after your interview, you can refer to some publications the Social Security Administration provides, such as:

  • The Disability Starter Kit to assist you in preparing for your interview.
  • Disability Evaluation Under Social Security (the Blue Book) to learn about how disability claims are evaluated.
  • Social Security Disability Benefits, a quick guide to applying for benefits and how they work.
  • What You Need to Know When You Get Disability Benefits, a description of available benefits and what you need to do to keep them.
  • Working While Disabled…How We Can Help, a guide to working while receiving disability benefits.

Links to these online publications are available at

Here Are Your Four Best Options For Getting The Disability Benefits You Deserve

  • By phone, toll-free, at 866-782-1744
  • In person at your nearest Social Security Administration office
  • Online at
  • Call Our Disability Helpline and connect with a disability professional who can assist you in the filing of your claim. Call 866-782-1744Learn more here.

No matter which option you choose, you need to be ready to answer questions and provide documentation.

Here are the items you need for your disability interview:

  • Any medical records you have in your possession.
  • If you’ve received workers’ compensation, all the information you have, including the date you were injured, settlement agreement, claim number and proof of any other disability payments.
  • Your minor children’s and your spouse’s names and dates of birth
  • Marriage and divorce dates.
  • If you want your checks direct-deposited, the number of your checking or savings account, along with your routing number.
  • A contact person’s name, address and phone number in case the Social Security Administration can’t reach you.
  • Form SSA-827, if available, signed and witnessed and returned.
  • If you’re filing in person or by phone, a completed “Medical and Job Worksheet—Adult”.

Qualifications for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are quite rigorous.

The fact that your doctor says you’re disabled isn’t enough. Whether you’ve received other kinds of disability payments doesn’t matter.

The criteria for SSDI benefits are independent of other factors. So being prepared is essential.

Be Patient When Applying For Disability

Preparing for and going through your disability interview can be time-consuming.

The interview alone will most likely take at least an hour.

Being ready to answer questions and provide documents can get you in and out as quickly as possible.

Determining whether you’re eligible to receive SSDI benefits will probably still take 30 to 90 days. So take a deep breath.

What if you’re denied?

First, remember that about two-thirds of initial Social Security disability claims are denied, so you have lots of company.

Of course, the best way to avoid a denial is to be ready (see “Do your homework and be prepared” above).

If you didn’t use an attorney or another expert to help you apply the first time, then call and use them the second time.

The appeals process is complicated, and you’ll have a much better chance of succeeding if you have help.

Most important, don’t give up if you don’t get what you need the first time.