How Do I Apply for Social Security Disability: A Step-by-Step Guide

how do i apply for social security disability
Share this article:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program designed to provide financial assistance to individuals who are unable to work due to a disability. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from working and is expected to last at least one year or result in death, you may be eligible for SSDI benefits. Applying for Social Security Disability can be a complex and time-consuming process, but with the right information and support, you can navigate it successfully. Let’s review how to apply for Social Security disability.

Filling Out Form SSA-16

The first step in applying for SSDI is to complete Form SSA-16, also known as the “Application for Disability Insurance Benefits.” This form is available on the Social Security Administration’s website or at your local Social Security office. Before you begin filling out the form, gather all the necessary information and documents, such as your Social Security number, birth certificate, medical records, and work history.

Basic Contact Information

Begin the application process by providing your basic contact information, including your full name, address, phone number, and email address. Double-check that the information you provide is accurate and up to date, as the Social Security Administration will use this information to communicate with you throughout the application process. If you move or change your phone number during the application process, be sure to update your contact information with the SSA promptly.

Demographic Information

In the next section of the application, you’ll be asked to provide demographic information such as your date of birth, place of birth, Social Security number, and citizenship status. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you’ll need to provide information about your immigration status and work authorization. Be prepared to provide documentation to support the information you provide in this section, such as your birth certificate or passport.

When Did Your Condition Prevent You From Working?

One of the most important pieces of information you’ll need to provide on your SSDI application is the date when your medical condition began to affect your ability to work. This date, known as the “alleged onset date,” will determine when your benefits will start if your application is approved. Be as specific as possible when providing this date, and make sure it is consistent with the information in your medical records. If you’re unsure of the exact date, provide your best estimate and explain any uncertainty in the “Remarks” section of the application.

Have You Worked in the Railroad Industry?

If you have worked in the railroad industry at any point in your career, you may be eligible for benefits under the Railroad Retirement Board instead of SSDI. The Railroad Retirement Board is a separate federal agency that administers retirement and disability benefits for railroad workers and their families.

Foreign Social Security Credits

If you have earned Social Security credits in a foreign country through work or residency, you may be able to use those credits to qualify for SSDI benefits in the United States. The Social Security Administration has agreements with many countries that allow credits earned in one country to be counted toward benefits in the other. If you have foreign Social Security credits, provide as much information as possible about those credits, including the country where you earned them and the dates of your employment or residency.

Do You Have a Pension or Annuity?

If you receive a pension or annuity from a former employer or from a private insurance company, you’ll need to provide details about the source and amount of this income on your SSDI application. Pension and annuity income may affect your eligibility for SSDI benefits, depending on the type of pension and how it was funded. Be sure to have documentation of your pension or annuity income available when filling out this section of the application.


If you are married, you’ll need to provide your spouse’s name, Social Security number, and date of birth on your SSDI application. This information is necessary to determine if your spouse may be eligible for benefits based on your work record, such as spousal or survivor benefits. If you are divorced or widowed, you may still need to provide information about your former spouse if you were married for a certain length of time and meet other criteria.

Children Who Could Get Benefits

If you have children under the age of 18, or who are disabled and became disabled before age 22, they may be eligible for benefits based on your work record. In this section of the application, provide the names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers of any children who could potentially qualify for benefits. If your children are over 18 but disabled, you’ll need to provide information about their disability and when it began.

Social Security Eligibility

To be eligible for SSDI benefits, you must have worked long enough and recently enough to qualify. The Social Security Administration uses a system of work credits to determine if you meet these requirements. In general, you need to have earned at least 40 work credits over the course of your career, with 20 of those credits earned in the last 10 years. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits. The SSA will use the information you provide about your work history to determine if you meet the eligibility requirements for SSDI.

Brief Work History

In this section of the application, provide a brief overview of your work history for the last 15 years, including the names of your employers, the dates you worked for each employer, and your job titles. If you have worked for more than three employers in the last 15 years, you’ll need to provide additional information on a separate sheet of paper. Be as accurate and complete as possible when providing your work history, as this information will be used to determine your eligibility for benefits and the amount of your benefit payment.


If you are self-employed or own your own business, you’ll need to provide additional information about your work in this section of the application. Include your business name, type of business, and net earnings for the last two years. If you have been self-employed for less than two years, provide an estimate of your expected earnings for the current year. You’ll also need to provide information about any employees you have and any other sources of income related to your self-employment.

Contact Benefits Claim for Support in Filing Your Claim

Navigating the Social Security Disability application process can be challenging, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Benefits Claim is a trusted resource for individuals seeking assistance with their SSDI applications. Our experienced professionals can guide you through each step of the process for how to apply for social security disability, from gathering necessary documents to filling out forms and appealing denied claims. If you have any questions or concerns about ‘how do i apply for social security disability’, or if you need help understanding the eligibility requirements or appeals process, contact Benefits Claim for support today.

Subscribe to get more info
on government assistance

Share this article:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.