Learn about Disability Benefits
Social Security pays disability benefits to people who can't work because they have a medical condition that's expected to last at least one year or result in death. Find out if you qualify and how Social Security can help you.
USE OUR DISABILITY PLANNER
Already Receiving Benefits
If you receive Social Security disability benefits, you can get information and services for managing your benefits online.
MANAGE YOUR BENEFITS
If you prefer to complete your application in a language other than English, the online application will give you the option to schedule an appointment to apply for benefits in your preferred language. The online application is currently only available in English.
Who can apply for adult disability benefits online?
You can use the online application to apply for disability benefits if you:
- Are age 18 or older;
- Are not currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record;
- Are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death; and
- Have not been denied disability benefits in the last 60 days. If your application was recently denied, our Internet Appeal application is a starting point to request a review of the determination we made.
You can now also file for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) online but only if you meet certain requirements. You are eligible to file online for SSI if you:
- Are between the ages of 18 and 65;
- Have never been married;
- Are a U.S. citizen residing in one of the fifty states, District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands;
- Haven’t applied for or received SSI benefits in the past; and
- Are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance at the same time as your SSI claim. Find out if you are eligible to receive Social Security Disability Benefits.
Once you finish the online process, a Social Security representative will contact you by telephone or by mail for any additional information needed for the applications.
You can also schedule an appointment with a local Social Security office to file an application. Call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday or contact your local Social Security office.
How do I apply for benefits?
Here is what you need to do to apply for benefits online:
- Print and review the Adult Disability Checklist
It will help you gather the information you need to complete the application.
- Complete the Disability Benefit Application.
What information do I need to apply for benefits?
We suggest that you have the following information at hand. It will make completing the application much easier.
Information About You
- Your date and place of birth and Social Security number
- The name, Social Security number and date of birth or age of your current spouse and any former spouse. You should also know the dates and places of marriage and dates of divorce or death (if appropriate)
- Names and dates of birth of your minor children
- Your bank or other financial institution's Routing Transit Number [more info] and the account number, if you want the benefits electronically deposited
Information About Your Medical Condition
- Name, address and phone number of someone we can contact who knows about your medical conditions and can help with your application
- Detailed information about your medical illnesses, injuries or conditions:
- 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; and
- Names and dates of medical tests you have had and who sent you for them.
Information About Your Work
- The amount of money earned last year and this year
- The name and address of your employer(s) for this year and last year
- A copy of your Social Security Statement
- The beginning and ending dates of any active U.S. military service you had before 1968
- A list of the jobs (up to 5) that you had in the 15 years before you became unable to work and the dates you worked at those jobs
- Information about any workers' compensation, black lung, and/or similar benefits you filed, or intend to file for. These benefits can:
- Be temporary or permanent in nature;
- Include annuities and lump sum payments that you received in the past;
- Be paid by your employer or your employer's insurance carrier, private agencies, or Federal, State or other government or public agencies; and
- Be referred to as:
- Workers' Compensation;
- Black Lung Benefits;
- Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation;
- Civil Service (Disability) Retirement;
- Federal Employees' Retirement;
- Federal Employees' Compensation;
- State or local government disability insurance benefits; or
- Disability benefits from the military (This includes military retirement pensions based on disability but not Veterans' Administration (VA) benefits.)
What documents do I need to provide?
We may ask you to provide documents to show that you are eligible, such as:
- Birth certificate or other proof of birth;
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you were not born in the United States [more Info];
- U.S. military discharge paper(s) if you had military service before 1968;
- W-2 forms(s) and/or self-employment tax returns for last year;
- Medical evidence already in your possession [more info]. This includes medical records, doctors' reports, and recent test results; and
- Award letters, pay stubs, settlement agreements or other proof of any temporary or permanent workers' compensation-type benefits you received [more info].
We accept photocopies of W-2 forms, self-employment tax returns or medical documents, but we must see the original of most other documents, such as your birth certificate. (We will return them to you.)
Do not delay applying for benefits because you do not have all the documents. We will help you get them.
Mailing Your Documents
If you mail any documents to us, you must include the Social Security number so that we can match them with the correct application. Do not write anything on the original documents. Please write the Social Security number on a separate sheet of paper and include it in the mailing envelope along with the documents.
If you do not want to mail these documents, you may bring them to a Social Security office. Do not mail foreign birth records or any documents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), especially those you are required to keep with you at all times. These documents are extremely difficult, time-consuming and expensive to replace if lost. Some cannot be replaced. Instead, bring them to a Social Security office where we will examine them and return them to you.
What are the advantages of applying using our online disability application process?
Our online disability application process offers several advantages. You can:
- Start your disability claim immediately. There is no need to wait for an appointment.
- Apply from the convenience of your own home or on any computer.
- Stop and return to your saved application before submission.
- Avoid trips to a Social Security office.
- Complete the process online even if you live outside the United States.
What happens after I apply?
After we receive your online application, we will:
- Provide confirmation of your application- either electronically or by mail.
- Review the application.
- Contact you by telephone or by mail if we need more information or documentation.
- Inform you if other family members may be able to receive benefits on your record, or if you may be able to receive benefits on another person’s record, such as your spouse or your parent.
- Process your application.
- Mail our decision to you.
What other ways can I apply?
You can also apply:
- By phone - Call us at 1-800-772-1213 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can call us at TTY 1-800-325-0778.
- In person - Visit your local Social Security office. (Call first to make an appointment.)
If you do not live in the U.S. or one of its territories you can also contact the Federal Benefits Unit that provides service to your country of residence.