- 1). Determine whether you meet the Social Security Administration's disability requirement. In order to meet this requirement, you must have a health condition that prevents you from "doing any substantial work because of your condition," and your condition must have either "lasted for 1 year or is expected to last for more than 1 year." The Social Security Administration makes the final determination as to whether an individual qualifies for benefits. Therefore, if you are questioning whether you qualify under the SSA's definition of "disability" you should still apply for a final determination.
- 2). Determine whether to apply for Social Security Disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income benefits. Disabled individuals who have worked for a specified amount of time based on age are eligible for Social Security Disability. The Social Security Administration has a chart for determining eligibility based on age and employment. You can access it by going to: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/credits3.htm.
If you are not eligible for Social Security Disability due to work history requirements, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income if you meet certain income requirements. The Social Security Administration has a work sheet for determining SSI benefits that can be accessed at: http://connections.govbenefits.gov/ssa_en.portal.
- 3). Apply for benefits. If you are applying for Social Security Disability benefits, you may apply online. You will be required to provide personal information including your Social Security number, proof of identity and age, and work history. You will also need to provide information about any doctors who can provide information about your disability. In addition to the main application, you will be required to fill out and sign an "Adult Disability Report"--this is where you will describe your disability and how it has affected you. By signing this form, you are giving the SSA permission to contact your doctor to gather information about your medical condition. After you have completed filling in all required information, submit the application.
If you do not have Internet access, need assistance, or are uncomfortable providing personal information online, you can make an appointment to fill out an application at your local Social Security Office. To find an SSA Office near you, call the Social Security Administration at: 1-800-772-1213.
You may not apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) online. You must make an appointment at a Social Security Administration office to complete an application.
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