Is it getting easier to apply for Social Security Disability Benefits? That’s a rhetorical question!

The application process for Social Security Disability is the first stumbling block for my clients and myself.  Once the application has left the local Social Security office to a decision maker, its smooth sailing for us both, but until then, ugh!

When you apply for Social Security Disability, you are actually filing two different applications.  Social Security pays disability benefits under two programs:

  1. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for insured workers, their disabled surviving spouses, and children (disabled before age 22) of disabled, retired, or deceased workers.
  2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for people with little or no income and resources.

I suppose you can just call the 1-800 number to get an appointment to file both applications.  In fact, that is the traditional way to get started.  But the SSDI application can now be filed online.  This is very convenient and much easier for individuals who want to just do it from home.


Can you work at your own pace?  Well…sort of.  The online process has really improved.  It used to crash and/or just pop you out.  Frequently, much of the information was lost and you would have to start all over again.  But now, you can spend a full 25 minutes before an alert moves you on.  You can stop and save along the way and later get back in, right where you left off.

But of course, the applicaition is still long.  Really long.  So it is best to have all the information you will need before you get started.  When you apply for SSDI online, you actually complete two separate forms; the application and the disability report.  It is best to do them both all at once (and get it over with)  Before you get started, have this information ready:

  • Military Service discharge information (Form DD 214) for all periods of active duty.
  • W-2 Form (or your IRS 1040 and Schedules C and SE if self-employed) from last year.
  • Social Security Number(s) for yourself, spouse and minor children.  For all marriages, you need to provide the name, SSN,  and date of birth (or age) of spouses as well as the dates of marriages, places of marriage and the dates of divorce or death.
  • Checking or savings account number and bank routing number, if you want Direct Deposit for your benefit checks.
  • Name, address and phone number of someone we can contact who knows about your medical conditions and can help with your claim.
  • Names, addresses, phone numbers, patient ID numbers, and dates of treatment for all doctors, hospitals, and clinics.
  • Names of medicines you are taking and who prescribed them.
  • Names and dates of medical tests you have had and who sent you for them.
  • Types of jobs and dates you worked for your last 5 jobs.  Also the names and address of your employer(s) for this year and last year.
  • Information about any insurance or workers’ compensation claims you filed, such as claim number and name, address and phone number of insurance company.

I know.  It already seems like a bad idea.  It is overwhelming, right?  That is why we do the application for our clients.

What happens next?

Once we have completed the online application, we fax the following information to the local district office:

  • Adult Disability Report Cover Sheet
  • Representation information (contract and form 1696)
  • Your signed medical authorization (827)
  • Request to schedule a phone appointment for the SSI application

Clients usually then get a “packet” in the mail that includes the following:

  • A copy of the application we completed for you, for your review.  You can correct any mistakes we made.
  • Another medical authorization for you to sign (827)
  • And a request for additional information

Sometimes SSA cannot finish your application without seeing certain documents.  Unfortunately, this means you may have to pay the local district office a visit.  What kind of information will they ask for?  SSA may want to see your birth certificate, workers compensation information, etc.

Once the initial application is filed, the administrative review process will begin.