How to Apply for Disability Benefits: You Have 4 Options

How to Apply for Disability

If you’ve been putting off applying for Social Security disability benefits because you’re concerned the process will be difficult or expensive, we have good news for you — it’s neither. Learn how to apply for disability benefits below in a few different ways, and the great news is they are all free.

Yes, you read that correctly: it is free to apply for Social Security disability benefits, and you have many convenient options for completing the application process.

What You Need to File for Disability Benefits

You can apply for benefits online, in person at your local SSA office, through an attorney or over the phone. It’s important to know that claims can take between three to five months to process, so get started today. To apply online, over the phone, or in person at an SSA office, plan ahead and assemble the documents you’ll need. These include:

  • Your Social Security number and proof of your age
  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of doctors, caseworkers, hospitals, and clinics that took care of you and the dates of your visits
  • Names and dosages of all the medications you are taking
  • Medical records from your doctors, therapists, hospitals, clinics, and caseworkers, that you already have in your possession
  • Laboratory and test results
  • A summary of where you worked and the kind of work you did
  • Your most recent W-2 form or, if you were self-employed, a copy of your federal tax return.

Note: You may also need information about family members, including Social Security numbers and proof of age for each family member who may qualify for benefits and proof of marriage, if your spouse is applying for benefits, as well as dates of prior marriages, if applicable.

How to Apply for Disability Option #1: Apply Online

Social Security offers an online disability application you can complete at your convenience. Apply from the comfort of your home or any location at a time most convenient for you. So, you don’t need to drive to your local Social Security office or wait for an appointment with a Social Security representative. To apply online, simply visit and follow the instructions there.

In addition to filing your application online, using the SSA website allows you to apply for most types of benefits and estimate your future payments. Since there are many services available, it’s a good idea to visit the site and read over your options.

How to Apply for Disability Option #2: Apply By Phone

Call the Social Security toll-free telephone number 1-800-772-1213. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can call the SSA at TTY 1-800-325-0778 You should only apply online or over the phone if you already have all your medical records and doctors’ contact info lined up and ready to go. Having all these documents on hand when you’re learning how to apply for disability will help expedite the process.

How to Apply for Disability Option #3: Apply in Person

You can visit your local Social Security office to ask how apply for disability benefits in person. Most importantly, if you want to apply in person, please call and make an appointment before you visit your local office. To locate the office closest to you, visit the Social Security Office Locator and enter your zip code, or call 1-800-772-1213 to receive office location information over the phone.

How to Apply for Disability Option #4: Apply Through an Attorney

Finally, if you can’t afford to buy copies of your medical records, you should apply through an attorney. Why? Well, all disability attorneys work on contingency, and none charge fees until (and unless) you win benefits. Then, they can only charge a one-time fee deducted from your lump-sum back pay. Also, federal law states that attorneys can’t charge you more than $6,000 or 25% of your back-pay amount.

How to Qualify for Free Legal Assistance

So now that you know how to apply for disability, would you like a professional to help you file your claim for free? Luckily, you can have an experienced lawyer help you file an error-free SSD claim free of charge. No matter where you are in the process, a lawyer can get you paid the most benefits you’re owed faster. And if a lawyer doesn’t help you get benefits, you will never pay a dime in legal fees — ever. Specifically, if a lawyer does help you win, you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee deducted from your lump-sum back pay.

The lawyers in our network offer free, confidential consultations to anyone with questions about how to apply for disability benefits. Click the button below to start your free disability benefits evaluation now.

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