Apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Apply for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI)
The SSDI program pays disability benefits to you and certain family members who meet our definition of disability if you worked long enough – and recently enough – under Social Security. It's important to be prepared before filing an application for disability benefits. We have important information about the basics of the SSDI program, eligibility criteria, and the application process to make it easier to help.
We encourage anyone who may be eligible for SSI or SSDI to apply as soon as they become disabled. It’s important to check eligibility requirements (please refer to the first two items on this page for information about eligibility).
For some individuals with diagnoses of diseases and other medical conditions that, by definition, meet our standards for disability benefits, SSA offers the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program that helps us reduce waiting time for a disability determination. These conditions primarily include certain cancers, adult brain disorders, and a number of rare disorders that affect children. The CAL program uses the same rules when evaluating both SSDI and SSI programs.
For SSDI, we pay SSDI benefits beginning in the sixth full month of disability. This is referred to as a 5-month waiting period. However, under the law, qualifying individuals living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — known as Lou Gehrig's disease — are exempt from this waiting period.
Estimate Their Future Benefits
How much a person will get in monthly benefits will vary based on a number of factors, including the type of benefit.
For Social Security benefits, how long a person worked, their earnings amounts, and other factors, will determine monthly benefits. To help estimate benefit amounts, we encourage you or someone you care about to create a my Social Security account to see estimates in their online Social Security Statement. The account also provides safe and secure access to a variety of services, like requesting a replacement Social Security or Medicare card, printing a proof of benefits, and much more.
For SSI benefits, some states pay a supplemental SSI amount in additional to the Federal amount.
Get Legal or Advocacy Help
Your local Social Security office lists legal referral services and non-profit organizations (such as legal aid services and local bar associations, meal assistance and more) that either provide services free of charge or help you find a representative. After selecting the zip code of your local Social Security office, look for Local Agencies on the page that can assist with these and other support services in your community.
If you need to represent someone through the application process, visit our Representing Social Security Claimants page. For advocates or third-party organizations assisting others, please visit our Appointed Representative Services page.
Check the Status of a Pending Application for Benefits
Appeal a Decision for Benefits
If someone you know was denied Social Security benefits or Supplemental Security Income, they can request an appeal. We provide information how to appeal decisions for both medical and non-medical reasons. View the brief “How To: File an Appeal if You Disagree with a Decision” video for more information.
Appeal a Decision on a Medical Review
If someone you know received a letter from Social Security telling them their Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits will be stopping because of a Medical Review, they can request an appeal. Information can be found in the publication, How We Decide if You Still Have a Qualifying Disability. View the brief “What to do if We Decide You are No Longer Disabled” video for more information.
If you help someone appeal the Medical Review decision, they may be able to request their benefits continue while we review their case. You can view this brief “How to request your benefits continue if you appeal a Medical Review” video for more information.
Get a Benefit Verification Letter
If someone you know needs a Benefit Verification Letter, often called a proof of income letter, from Social Security, they can get a printable copy of their Benefit Verification Letter instantly by creating or logging in to their personal my Social Security account.
Get a replacement Social Security Benefit Statement or SSA-1099
If someone you know needs a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S, also known as a Social Security Benefit Statement, they can get a printable copy of the tax form instantly by creating or logging in to their personal my Social Security account.
Report a Change
People who receive benefits from Social Security are required to report any change that could affect their eligibility for disability, retirement, and Supplemental Security Income benefits. This may include, but is not limited to, starting or ending a job, starting or ending other benefits, change of address, or traveling outside the country for 30 consecutive days. Please see below for more:
Working While Disabled
If someone you know is receiving Social Security Disability benefits or SSI Disability, Social Security has information available that can help people make decisions about working.
- How Work Affects Disability Benefits
- How Work Affects SSI Disability Benefits
Social Security has rules that make it possible for disabled individuals to work and receive their benefits. These rules include work incentives like the Trial Work Period and Extended Period of Eligibility and the Ticket to Work program. Information can be found in the publication Working While Disabled: How We Can Help. View the brief video “Can you work if you are receiving Social Security Disability benefits?” for more information.
SSI has rules that make it possible for disabled individuals to work and receive their benefits and maintain eligibility for Medicaid. These rules include work incentives like the Extended Period of Eligibility and the Ticket to Work program. Information can be found in the publication Working While Disabled: How We Can Help. View the brief video “Can you work if you are receiving SSI Disability benefits?” for more information.
Anyone who receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and works is required by law to report their wages to Social Security. Learn when and how to report wages if receiving SSI by visiting the Reporting Wages for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) page.
If someone you are helping received a Notice of Overpayment from Social Security, there are options available. The information below and this brief video explain these options. For more information, please read, “What can I do if I’m notified that I have an overpayment?"
Repay an Overpayment
If the person you are helping is not appealing the overpayment or requesting that we waive the overpayment, how an overpayment can be repaid depends on whether the person with the overpayment is currently receiving benefits from Social Security.
- A person currently receiving benefits will typically have the overpayment balance subtracted automatically from the monthly benefit amount. In that case, no action is required.
- If the person is not currently receiving benefits, we provide a safe and secure way to repay the overpayment online via a bank account, debit card, or credit card.
Request Waiver for an Overpayment
We send notices to people to let them know if we paid them more than they should have received. The notice explains how to ask us to reconsider our decision, or not collect the overpayment (we call this a “waiver”), or let you pay back the amount at a different rate. Our web page explains what to do in each situation.
Request a Dire Need Payment
We may be able to make an emergency advance payment to new applicants who face a financial emergency and who are due benefits that are delayed or not received. If you think someone you care about may qualify, call their local Social Security office.
Get an Original Social Security Number and Card
An original number and card is for someone who has never had a Social Security number assigned to them. Whether you are helping an adult or child, U.S. citizen or not, we make it easy to know what information to gather and what to do.
Get a Replacement or Corrected Social Security Card
You can replace a Social Security card if it is lost or stolen, and if nothing about you (e.g., name, citizenship status, etc.) needs to change on our records. In this case, you would request a “replacement” card.
You can also get a corrected card in cases of marriage, divorce, or court order when someone’s information (e.g., name, citizenship status) needs to change on our records. In this case, you would request a “corrected” card.
Get a Replacement Medicare Card
Learn how to replace a Medicare card online with Social Security or by phone with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Helping Vulnerable Populations
Social Security is committed to providing service to everyone, especially vulnerable populations. Visit our pages for more information on someone assisting Veterans, someone experiencing homelessness, someone applying for benefits prior to release from Prison, or someone helping those reinstating benefits after release from Prison.
Get Help in a Language other than English
Social Security is committed to providing service to everyone who needs help. This includes people with little or no understanding of English. We offer information online in 12 languages. We also provide free interpreter services when you contact us for help. View the brief “How To: Request Service and Information in Other Languages” video for more information.