There are several different ways you can file an initial application for disability benefits with the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you have recently become disabled or already have a disabling condition that prevents you from working, you should apply for Social Security disability benefits as soon as possible. To start your application, you can do one of the following:
Apply Over the Telephone
You can apply by calling the Social Security Administration (SSA) at their toll-free number: 1-800-772-1213. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can call them at TTY 1-800-325-0778. Applying over the telephone can be frustrating as an automated system will answer and you’ll likely be put on hold before getting you in contact with someone. A Social Security worker will ask you the questions on the application and will submit it once they are finished.
You can apply online for disability benefits at www.ssa.gov. You will be able to answer all the questions yourself and can save the application in the middle of the process to come back to it later before submitting it. Unfortunately there is no official online application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, but you can still apply through the same online application and a Social Security representative will contact you if he or she needs more information.
You can apply in-person at your local Social Security office. It is recommended that you call ahead and make an appointment at your local office to avoid a long waiting time. To find your local office in your state, check out our Social Security Offices page.
File With an Advocate
Statistically 80% of initial applications are denied because of a simple mistake or technical error. Due to this, many applicants seek the assistance of a qualified disability advocate. A disability advocate is an experienced individual in the field of Social Security disability; they know how the SSA functions, how to properly file an application, how to fight an appeal (if necessary) and how to get you approved for benefits. There are two different kinds of advocates: A disability lawyer and a disability non-attorney advocate.
Disability Lawyer or Attorney
These individuals are lawyers and attorneys who have passed their state BAR and are certified legal attorneys. They can help applicants throughout the entire application process including the appeals council and federal district court. They automatically qualify for direct pay from the SSA.
Disability Non-attorney Advocate
These individuals are non-attorney professionals experienced in Social Security disability. They can help applicants apply for disability benefits and can guide them through the initial, reconsideration, and appeals hearing stages of the application process. However, non-attorney advocates cannot assist with the appeals council and federal district court stages. A qualified non-attorney can receive direct pay if they pass a special examination given once a year by a third party organization and are personally approved by the SSA themselves.