How and Where to Apply for Disability

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Artwork: Robin Mead

To get things rolling, you will need to answer some questions. There are a few different ways you can do this:

One: Apply online

🌞 You can apply online on the Social Security website. You may wish to also check out these tips for How to Answer Questions

Two: Apply on paper

🌞 You can print out the forms and fill them out.  The forms you want are: SSA-16-BK, Application for Disability Insurance Benefits, SSA-3368-BK, Adult Disability Report, SSA-3369-BK Work History Report and SSA 827-BK Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration. You may wish to also check out these tips for How to Answer Questions

Three: Hire a lawyer

🌞 Someone from the lawyer’s office will ask you questions and fill out these form. You may wish to also check out these tips for How to Answer Questions

Four: Contact Social Security

🌞 You can call Social Security and request an appointment to apply for disability. At the appointment, the caseworker will ask you questions and then fill out this form for you. If you are unable to get to your local office, you may be able to request a phone appointment. This caseworker does not make a decision about your disability application, but they do sometimes take notes on your appearance and abilities.  Hint: Make sure to schedule an appointment. Do not just walk in or you will be waiting the rest of your life. You may wish to also check out these tips for How to Answer Questions

Five: Get Help from SOAR

🌞 If you are homeless or at-risk for homelessness, see if there is a SOAR program in your area. This program is way better than any of the first four options. Many (but not all) SOAR programs only work with people who have  diagnosis of serious mental illness.


Am I eligible?

🌞 Most people are eligible to apply. If you’ve somehow gotten the impression that you might not be, don’t give up hope just yet. Read more: How Do I Know if I am Eligible to Apply?


How Do I Answer Questions?

🌞 Here are some tips for good answers: How to Fill Out Forms & Answer Questions


If You Are Poor

🌞 There are two different programs: SSI and SSDI. If you are poor, you always want to apply for both. If you haven’t worked enough to apply for both, then just apply for SSI.Β  There is a box on the application that asks if you “intend to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).” Make sure that box gets checked. If you feel tempted to not check the box, read this.


Other Options

🌞 Some agencies have Social Workers and Case Workers who help with disability applications. Sometimes these people are wonderful. Other times they have little or no training in Social Security. Be careful. I am not kidding when I say I once met someone who was terminally ill and in the hospital. The hospital Social Worker helped her fill out her application, literally, from her death bed. She still got denied.

If someone is assisting you, that is great, but it is a good idea to still look at some of the links on this page so you can help your application as much as possible yourself.

Updated: March 2017 by Lily Silver 🌞

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