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What do I need to do to get SSA disability benefits?

Many Social Security Disability claimants apply for benefits without understand the disability process, how the Social Security Administration (SSA) makes their disability determination or what programs are offered by the SSA.

What should you do before applying for Social Security disability benefits? First, review the disability programs which are offered and make sure you understand how you can qualify for each.

The Social Security Administration offers two programs for claimants who are disabled and unable to work: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

The Social Security Disability Insurance program or SSDI is a disability program which provides monthly wage replacements payments to employees who have a severe mental or physical health condition which is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months and who are no longer able to work or to perform “substantial gainful activity”.

Claimants must not only meet the medical criteria established by the Social Security Administration (SSA) but they must also have worked long enough and paid enough in payroll taxes to be considered “insured” by the SSA.

The SSA determines the number of work credits which must be accumulated by disabled workers to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance. The number of credits needed can vary if you become disabled at a young age. Generally, most workers will need approximately 20-40 work credits to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

What if you are disabled and cannot work but you have not worked much in the past and you have not accumulated in work credits? Claimants who have not worked and who have not paid employment taxes will not qualify for SSDI.

The Federal Government does offer another cash assistance program called Supplemental Security Income which provides benefits for the aged (65 years or older), blind or disabled who are not considered “insured” by the Federal government but need cash assistance to meet their minimum monthly expenses. Claimants must also be unable to work for at least 12 continuous months.

Supplemental Security Income is a “needs” based program. Claimants whose income or resources are too high will not qualify for SSI benefits.
How do I apply for SSI or SSDI Benefits?

So after you review the requirements listed above and you decide that you might qualify for either SSI or SSDI, what do you do next? Claimants who are not working at a substantial level may apply on their own or they may contact a disability lawyer.

Completing a SSA Disability Application

If you would like to apply for Social Security Disability benefits on your own you can contact the Social Security Administration by:

• Calling them at 1-800-772-1213
• Visiting them online at and completing an online disability application
• Visiting a Social Security Administration Regional Office. The nearest regional Social Security Office can be found by visiting the Social Security Administration’s website office locator site. If you enter your zip code in on this page it will display the closest office to you in your area.

To Complete the Social Security Application Process you will need the following information

• Employment records for the last 15 years and the date of the last day you worked
• Prescription information, including, names, dosage amount and prescribing doctors
• Hospital, doctor, and clinics names, phone numbers and addresses
• The Social Security Number of the individual applying for Social Security Disability benefits
• A Valid birth certificate
• Marriage and dependant information
• Public benefit information you are currently receiving
• Information about your disability
• W-2 tax forms

Hiring a Social Security Disability Lawyer

If you would like a Social Security Disability attorney to review your disability claim you can fill out the FREE evaluation form and a disability advocate will call you to review your claim or you can call our office at 1-800-641-3759 to talk to someone now.