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What is the best way to start the SSDI application?

In previous blogs we have addressed how to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance: have a condition which is expected to last 12 months, have a condition which is so severe it does not allow you to perform substantial gainful activity, and have enough work credits to be insured for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

This blog will discuss how to actually start the application process and some considerations which should be made prior to filling out the SSDI application and giving it to the Social Security Administration.

What is the best way to apply for SSDI benefits?

There are three ways to apply for SSDI benefits: contact the SSA by phone at 1-800-772-1213, call and schedule an appointment with a SSA representative or fill out the application online at

Benefits of visiting the Social Security Administration to apply for SSDI

If you do not understand the process and need a bit of personalized attention, visiting a regional Social Security Administration office and speaking directly with a SSA representative may be ideal. There are several drawbacks, however, to consider.

First, there are over a million applications for disability benefits each year. This means that even without major budget constraints and limited SSA workers the Social Security Administration is overwhelmed. Expecting too much from the SSA would be a mistake. If you do decide to go to the office, make sure you have realistic expectations about what the SSA can provide to you.

Secondly, the SSA representative will be evaluating you as you complete the application form. For instance, do you have difficulty writing, reading, or sitting for an extended period of time? Can you understand the questions? It is not unusual for the SSA representative to document what they have witnessed from the visit. This could be beneficial or detrimental for your claim.

Benefits of applying for SSDI online

If you understand technology and can easily navigate the Social Security Administration system applying online may be perfect for you. The SSA has also created a program called the BEST program that is a prescreening tool that you can use to determine if you meet the nonmedical qualifications of the SSDI program, saving you valuable time.

The downside for many claimants of using the online application process is it can be time consuming and difficult to understand. Other claimants get half-way through the application and either do not save their work or cannot figure out how to reenter the system and may end up having to contact the SSA for help.

Benefits of applying for SSDI over the phone

An over the phone interview may be the perfect option for many SSDI claimants. If you have difficulty navigating a complex computer program but you do not want the hassle of going to the SSA regional office you can apply over the phone.

An over the phone interview will give you the personal contact that an in person interview offers without the hassle of waiting at the SSA office. It also eliminates the chance that you might do something that could negatively impact your disability case.

Regardless of the method you use to apply, if you are unable to work and you meet the criteria for SSDI, waiting too long to apply for SSDI can eliminate your chance of receiving SSDI benefits.

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