How to Start Applying for Social Security Disability

Artwork: Zeraph Dylan Moore

There are two ways that most people get started with applying for disability. Pick the one that works for you:

Option A: Prepare

Some people chose to take extra steps to improve their documentation before they apply. Improving your application may increase your chances of being approved the first time without needing to appeal. If you would like to do this, here’s where you can find a list of Helpful Steps You Can Take Before You Apply

Option B: Apply Right Now

You can jump right in and apply any time you want. You can apply in person, online, on the phone, on paper, or through a lawyer. You can still add to your medical documentation after you apply. Here’s where you can find information on How and Where to Apply Right Now

Am I eligible?

Most people are eligible to apply. If you are not sure, you can just go ahead and apply and see what happens, or you can take a look here: How Do I Know if I am Eligible to Apply? If someone told you that you cannot apply, or you have some reason to think that you cannot apply, please take a look here: “Someone told me I’m not eligible”

What else can I apply for?

There may be other forms of disability you can also apply for, such as disability from your state, or disability insurance through your employer: Other Forms of Disability. There are also many other programs that may be able to provide other kinds of and services help while you are applying: How to Get Help While Applying for Disability

Should I apply now or wait and see?

We’ve heard from a lot of people who have applied for disability. We’ve heard a lot of stories. A lot of hard stories and a lot of hard luck stories. Here’s one story we’ve never heard: “I should have waited.” How Do I Know If It Is Time to Apply for Disability?

What Do You Think? 

Updated July 2018. Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. 

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2 thoughts on “How to Start Applying for Social Security Disability”

  1. Thank you so much for writing such helpful articles! I have CFS and hope to soon have a diagnosis. I am just now looking up how to apply for disability. I was feeling really anxious when I was looking it up, but it’s so great to have access to articles like yours that lay out so clearly how to do things–that list your options and can break down what you need step-by-step. It makes it far less daunting!


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