How Do I Apply For Social Security Disability And What Information Do I Need?

Once you have made the decision to apply for Social Security disability, you will want to complete the application as soon as possible to shorten your wait to receive benefits after you are approved for disability. If you are thinking about filing for disability in the near future (six months for SSDI and two months for SSI), you can let Social Security know that you plan to file and you will have a “protective filing date” that will become the application date.

SSDI pays benefits to disabled people who have worked long enough and recently enough to be insured by paying FICA taxes. For SSDI, you can receive retroactive pay as far back as 12 months from the date you apply for benefits if you are found disabled.  However, you have a five-month waiting period after the date you are approved for disability before you begin receiving SSDI benefits. There is also a 24-month waiting period for Medicare.

SSI pays benefits to disabled people who have limited income and resources. Once your disability is approved, SSI benefit payments become payable to you the month after the month your application is filed. You may be eligible for Medicaid benefits.

Create a my Social Security Account Before Starting the Disability Application

Create your my Social Security account first before you begin your disability application. If try to start the disability application first, Social Security will prompt you to create your account before you work on your disability application.To create your account, you answer a series of identity questions for verification. You must also have a:

  • Social Security number
  • Valid email address
  • S. mailing address

You must also be at least 18 years old to create an account. You can only create an account using your own personal information and for your own exclusive use. With your account, you will be able to review your earnings record to make sure it is accurate, and you will be able to check on the status of your disability claim after you complete your application.

Select Your Alleged Onset Date Before Applying For Disability

Give some consideration as to what date you became disabled or your alleged onset date. Your alleged onset date can affect how much SSDI backpay you get if you are approved. Often a person uses the date he or she became unable to work as the alleged onset date, but if you have had to work reduced hours or had to take extensive leave, you may decide on an earlier date.

Information You Need To Complete The Disability Application

The information you need to complete the disability application is detailed. Gather the documents necessary to help provide information about yourself, your immediate family, your medical condition, and your work. To get an idea of what information you will need, use the Checklist for Online Adult Disability Application You may also want to review information in the Adult Disability Disability Starter Kit provided by Social Security at

Begin by gathering your tax return, W2s, paystubs, marriage license, form DD 214 for military service, and other important documents to refer to as you work through the application. For background, here are a few of the questions you will be asked:

  • Your date and place of birth and Social Security number.
  • Your address, and telephone.
  • The name, Social Security number, and date of birth or age of your current spouse and any former spouse. You will be asked about the dates and places of marriage and dates of divorce or death (if appropriate).
  • Names and dates of birth of your minor children.

You will also be asked for your bank’s routing transit number and your bank account number that you will use for Direct Deposit if you are approved for disability benefits.

Educational information on the application includes the highest grade you completed in school and the name of the last school you attended. You will be asked whether you were in special education at school. You will also be asked if you have completed any vocational or trade school education.

To answer questions about your work, begin by making a list of your employers with the months and years you worked. You can refer to your earnings record found in your my Social Security account, as well as your tax information, pay stubs, or W2s. The application asks for your employment history covering the last 5 jobs you have had in the 15 years prior to the date you stopped working. You will be asked if your impairments are related to work and if you have received workers compensation. If you are self-employed, you will be asked for information pertaining to that work. You will also be asked if you or your spouse have worked outside of the United States.

Also, pull together any medical information you already have at home, such as treatment notes, diagnostic test results, emergency department summaries and hospital records. Use these documents to write a list of all of your diagnosed physical and mental conditions. You can also use these records and your pill bottles to make a list of all your prescribed medications and non-prescription medications you regularly take. Make another list of any laboratory or diagnostic testing you have had along with the place where the testing was performed and the dates.

You will also need to refer to this medical information for a list of the names, addresses and phone numbers of treating sources, hospitals and other medical sources where you have had or are continuing to have treatment. For each source, you will need to provide the month and year you began treatment and the month and year of the last time you were treated.

For your SSI application, you will be asked additional questions about you and your immediate family’s income and resources, as well as living arrangements since SSI is a needs-based program. Refer to this list for more information at

Apply for Social Security Disability Online

You can apply online for SSDI or both SSDI and SSI disability benefits. You cannot apply for SSI only disability online. To start your application for disability, go to the Social Security website’s Apply for Benefits page. Read and agree to the Terms of Service and then click “Next”. Review the “Getting Ready” section to once again confirm you have the information you need to apply. Select “Start A New Application” and follow the prompts to enter the application information.

After you provide some basic background information about yourself and if there is anyone who is helping you fill out the application, you can get a “re-entry” number so that you will be able to save and exit and then later on use the re-entry number to re-access the application.

As you work through the application, you answer the questions on each page and select “next”, or you select any of the tabs at the top of the application page to move to another section. A green check mark means you have provided all the necessary information in that section. A yellow triangle means that you still need to provide more information in that section.

Once you complete the online process, a Social Security representative will contact you by mail or phone for additional information.

Actions to Take After Filing Online

Social Security will ask you to complete and sign form SSA-827 Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration once you have submitted your application. The authorization allows Social Security to request medical records for your claim.

If someone else prepares the online application on your behalf, a Social Security representative will contact you by phone to:

  • Verify your intent to file.
  • Confirm the information provided.
  • Obtain any additional information needed for the application(s).
  • Give you the opportunity to provide a verbal signature and other relevant documents.

Other Ways to Apply for Social Security Disability

If you cannot submit your application online, you still can apply by contacting Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). In the past, you could go to the local Social Security office to submit your application in-person, but due to COVID, in-person visits have been significantly restricted.

Contact a Disability Lawyer for Help

If you need help applying for disability, contact a disability lawyer at Cardea Law Group, LLC. We have a free consultation. When we represent you, we will work with you to complete the application for disability and other necessary forms. In addition, we show our commitment by providing you with information, guidance, and support at every step.  Call us at 334-440-6261.

What Are Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB) and do I qualify?

Childhood disability benefits (CDB) are benefits available to a qualified disabled “adult child” whose disability began before they became 22 years old.  CDB benefits are considered a “child” benefit because they are based on the Social Security Disability Insurance (DIB) record of a parent.  The parent must have earned sufficient credits to qualify the child for DIB benefits.  A parent’s Social Security benefits are not affected by the award of CDB benefits.  The benefit of using a parent’s DIB record for CDB is that the adult child does not have to meet the limited income and resources requirement if applying for SSI.  The CDB benefits will likely be higher than other benefits for which the adult child may qualify.

Requirements to Qualify for CDB Benefits

An adult disabled before the age of 22 qualify for “child’s” CDB benefits if a parent: 

• Is receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits; or

• Has died and worked enough to qualify for Social Security.

In a CDB case, Social Security decides whether the adult child is disabled based on the rules for adult disability. To qualify for CDB benefits, the adult child must have become disabled prior to age 22.  The adult child must also now be 18 years old or older and not earned income that exceeds substantial gainful activity amounts.  In addition, marital status may affect whether or not he or she is qualified for CDB.  CDB benefits generally end if the adult child gets married, but some marriages, such as a marriage to another disabled adult child are protected.  Qualifying for CDB benefits as an adult child can also be affected by the status of familial relationships.

Medical and other evidence provided to Social Security must prove that the adult child was disabled from medically determinable impairment(s) prior to the age of 22. It is critically important to have the child’s physician clearly document all of the information concerning the adult child’s disability, including objective medical evidence, such as signs and laboratory findings. 

Other Social Security Benefits for which an Adult Child may qualify

They may be eligible for SSI benefits if income and resource requirements are met.  In some cases, a person may be able to get SSI benefits on their own, and also get additional CDB benefits based on the record of a deceased, disabled, or retired parent or guardian. For an adult child receiving SSI benefits, or DIB disability benefits on his or her own record should check to see if CDB benefits may be payable on a parent’s earnings record. 

Contact a Social Security Disability Representative for Help

A Social Security disability representative can assist you with your child’s claim. Contact an experienced Social Security disability representative at Cardea Disability, LLC at 334-440-6261.