What should I do before I apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits?

Before you apply, you should check your eligibility, see your doctor, and gather the evidence the SSA requires to make a decision on your claim.

What documents do I need to apply for SSD benefits?

Some of the information you’ll need to apply for disability benefits includes:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Proof of your age
  • Medical records and test results
  • Prescription drug history
  • Checking or savings account numbers
  • Details about where you’ve worked during the last five years
  • Your most recent W-2
  • Military service discharge information (if applicable)
  • Proof of marriage or divorce (if applicable)

Download and print our SSD Application Checklist to help ensure you have everything you need to complete your application.

If you need help gathering evidence to apply for SSD or file an appeal, Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin wants to assist you. Our national Social Security Disability lawyers have more than 45 years of legal experience, and we know how to prepare disability claims that get results. Contact us 24/7 to get in touch with our legal team—just dial (800) 477-7315 or complete our free online form.

How do I file for Social Security Disability benefits?

You can file for benefits by visiting your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office, by phone, or, for many benefits, by applying online. Visit our Applying for SSD Benefits page to learn about the forms you’ll need, the evidence that should be included with your application, and if you qualify for expedited claims processing.

When should I file for SSD?

It is important that you file for benefits as soon as you become disabled. In most cases, the SSA will not pay you retroactively. Also, it can take a few months to process your application—so the sooner you apply the better.

Who can represent me when applying for SSD benefits?

You have the right to elect a representative to act on your behalf. Your representative can be an attorney, a friend, or someone else. However, the SSA must approve the individual you choose before he or she can be your representative.

Why should I get a Social Security Disability attorney?

People who have legal representation when applying for SSD benefits or appealing a denial may be more likely get benefits than those who take on the SSA without help. A Social Security Disability attorney can help you:

  • Locate the documentation required the SSA,
  • File your SSD application and disability report,
  • Stay up-to-date on the progress of your claim
  • Appeal your SSD claim if you’re denied benefits

Can I work while receiving SSD benefits?

Yes. Visit our Working While Getting SSD Benefits page to learn about the SSA’s work incentives—including the Ticket to Work program—and how returning to work affects your eligibility to receive benefits.

Why are SSD claims denied?

The SSA can deny SSD claims for a variety of reasons, and many denials can be reversed with a strong appeal. Visit our Why SSD Claims Are Denied page to learn some of the most common reasons SSD claims are denied.

How does an SSD appeal work?

If your application for SSD benefits gets denied, the appeals process allows SSA officials to reexamine your claim along with any new evidence you choose to submit. To learn about the four steps of the SSD appeals process, visit our Appealing Your Claim page.

Can I reopen my claim?

You may be able to reopen your claim after you have been denied SSD if the SSA receives new and material evidence, makes a clerical error, or determines that the evidence used in making the determination or decision clearly shows that the determination or decision was incorrect.

How do I refile my initial SSD claim?

If you have an outstanding appeal, you have the right to refile an initial claim, whether that claim is for the same or a different issue. Depending on the level of your appeal and nature of your subsequent claim, your claims may be consolidated or continue as separate claims.


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