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Disability Benefits and the Application Process

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs help people with disabilities. The SSA provides detailed information to help you understand what to expect from Social Security during the application process.

Before you apply, please review the basics to make sure you understand the process. Also, gather the information and documents you’ll need to complete an application.

The Basics About Disability Benefits

The SSDI program pays benefits to you and certain family members if you are “insured.” This benefit means that you worked long enough – and recently enough – and paid Social Security taxes on your earnings. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays adults and children with disabilities who have limited income and resources.

While these two programs are different, the medical requirements are the same. If you meet the non-medical requirements, monthly payments will continue if you have a medical condition expected to last at least one year or result in death.

The Disability Application Process

Whether you apply online, by phone, or in person, the disability benefits application process follows these general steps:

• You gather the information and documents you need to apply. We recommend you print and review the Adult Disability Checklist. It will help you collect the information you need to complete the application.
• You complete and submit your application.
• We review your application to make sure you meet some basic requirements for disability benefits.
• We check whether you worked enough years to qualify.
• We evaluate any current work activities.
• We process your application and forward your case to the Disability Determination Services office in your state.
• This State agency makes the disability determination decision.
• To learn more about who decides if you are disabled, read our publication Disability Benefits.

To learn more about who decides if you are disabled, read our publication Disability Benefits.

(Source: Social Security Administration)

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