More Frequently Asked Questions about Disability

Q: How do I apply for disability benefits?

A: Start using the SSA’s online Disability Application now.

You also can make an appointment to apply in person or by phone by: Calling the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday; or contacting your local Social Security office.

If you live outside the United States, please refer to Service Around the World.

Q: What should I do if I think I might be eligible for benefits?

A: If you think you might be eligible for benefits, we encourage you to apply right away so you will preserve your filing date which the SSA uses to determine the start of your potential benefits. If you have questions about how a same-sex marriage may affect your claim, please call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contact your local Social Security office.

Q: What happens after I apply for disability benefits online?

A: Once the Social Security Administration (SSA) receives your online application, it will be reviewed the next business day. Then the SSA may contact you if they need more information or if they need to see your documents. Do not send any documents unless they ask. Once the SSA has all of the necessary information and documents, they will send your application to the Disability Determination Services (DDS). This is the State agency that reviews your medical evidence and makes a decision on your claim for disability benefits. The Disability Examiner assigned to your claim may contact you for more information.

Q: Do I qualify for benefits if I am now in, or the surviving spouse of, a civil union or other legal same-sex relationship?

A: The SSA is working with the Department of Justice to develop and implement policy and processing instructions on this issue. However, the SSA encourages you to still apply right away for benefits, even if you aren't sure you are eligible as applying now will protect you against the loss of any potential benefits. If you have questions about how a same-sex marriage may affect your claim, please call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contact your local Social Security office.

Q: Do I qualify for benefits if I live in a place that prohibits or does not recognize same-sex marriages or other legal same-sex relationships?

A: The SSA is working with the Department of Justice to develop and implement policy and processing instructions on this issue. However, we encourage you to apply right away for benefits, even if you aren't sure you are eligible since applying now will protect you against the loss of any potential benefits. If you have questions about how a same-sex marriage may affect your claim, please call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contact your local Social Security office.

Eligibility for Disability

Q: What should I do if I think I might be eligible for benefits?

A: If you think you might be eligible for benefits, we encourage you to apply right away as applying now will preserve your filing date, which we use to determine the start of potential benefits. If you have questions about how a same-sex marriage may affect your claim, please call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contact your local Social Security office.

Q: What is the difference between Social Security disability and SSI disability?

A: See the Table below for some basic distinctions. The major distinction between the two (2) programs is that SSDI is for those people who have worked long enough to build up enough credits to earn SSDI. SSI, on the other hand, is for people who have limited assets, income, or resources and may not have ever worked. SSI is a last resort. The details of each program are explained in detail on our website under Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Social Security Disability Insurance Supplemental Security Income
Eligibility

A disabled or blind individual must have paid Social Security taxes to become insured for benefits.

A disabled or blind adult or child must meet all of the following categories:

  • Have limited income;
  • Have limited resources
  • Be a U.S. citizen or national, or in one of certain categories of aliens; and
  • Live in the United States or Northern Mariana Islands. 
Payment

The monthly disability benefit amount is based on the Social Security earnings record of the insured worker. 

The monthly payment is based on need and varies up to the maximum federal benefit rate.  Some states add money to federal SSI payments.

Medical CoverageThe worker will get Medicare coverage automatically after receiving disability benefits for two years.In most states, beneficiaries are automatically eligible for Medicaid.
 

Complete explanation of the benefit: