How and Where to Apply for Social Security Disability

Art: Robin Mead

You can start your application for Social Security disability online, on paper, on the phone, in person, or through a lawyer.

What To Expect

While you are applying, here’s a few Tricky Questions You May Be Asked.

Six Ways to Apply

🌷 Apply Online – Most of our readers start their application this way. Make sure to print and keep the confirmation page as proof that you submitted an application.

🌷 Hire a Lawyer – Someone from the lawyer’s office will assist with forms. There is no charge upfront.

🌷 Apply in Person: Someone at your local Social Security office will help you with the forms. Hint: Contact your local office to schedule an appointment. Do not just walk in or you will be waiting the rest of your life.

🌷 Apply on the Phone: If you are unable to get to your local office, you can request to schedule a phone appointment instead.

🌷 Apply through SOAR: If you are homeless or at-risk for homelessness, and have a diagnosis of serious mental illness, see if there is a SOAR program in your area. They are excellent (and free!)

🌷 Find a Social Worker: If you have a Social Worker, they may be able to assist you with forms.


🌷 Social Security Checklist – Booklet from the Social Security Administration.

🌷 Free Samples – Sample completed Social Security forms and applications.

“I’m Nervous!”

Some people feel nervous before calling or meeting a Social Security worker. It may be helpful to know that anyone you meet or speak with at your local Social Security office will not be involved in deciding if you are disabled. They are just there to help with paperwork.

The person who makes the decision works in a different building, usually in a different part of the state, sometimes in another state entirely!

There are rumors that some local staff people may make a short note in your file about how you look or act during the meeting. However, according to Magnolia this is rare and she’s never actually seen such a note.


🌷 This page is part of the free online guide: The Sleepy Girl Guide to Social Security Disability 

🌷 Art on this page by Robin Mead and Elizabeth D’Angelo.

8 thoughts on “How and Where to Apply for Social Security Disability”

  1. my wife is currently on short term disability from her job due to stress and anxiety causing her dizzyness. Her 1 year mark is the end of next month, march 2020. How does she apply for long term disability? Does she have to go back to her employer or social security or some other organization?
    Thank you,


  2. So I need to do an entirely new application? I’m on SSI right now (have been since I was 24) & I have surpassed the necessary number of credits to qualify for SSDI. Does that mean I need to go through all the steps again, b/c the SSA has had me as disabled the entire time.

    (Ugh sorry. Thanks for all this, but i’m sans-brain meds right now & everything is confusing)


    1. In my understanding, you would need to fill out a new application, or visit your local office. I don’t think it will be the same type of process as last time though, most people don’t have problems getting it approved in this situation.


  3. I applied for disability back at the beginning of 2018 and am still waiting for a decision from the administrative judge. I lost my job, 06/17 they fired me because I was unable to do my job any more. I went on unemployment because I was unsure what else to do. I was on Unemployment for 26 weeks (6 months), my attorney used the date of disability as the date I was fired. If I am awarded SSDI from that date how will unemployment affect my SSDI backpay?


    1. It could impact what date SSA decides is your onset date. That would affect your backpay.

      If the ALJ chooses the onset date your lawyer requested…. I don’t think unemployment impacts backpay… sorry I am not 100% certain.

      I hope it goes well for you.


  4. The for this blog. I followed the advice and had favorable results. Really good info on how to complete the questionnaire which was the hardest part for me.


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