Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Apply for Benefits

You can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI):

  • Online (which starts the application process immediately instead of having to wait for an appointment)
  • By calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY) to make an appointment to apply either:

You can apply online yourself, but if you want someone to guide you through the process, make an appointment with Social Security.

Getting Your Application Ready

Get your information ready for the SSDI application:

  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of doctors, therapists, hospitals, clinics, and others who have treated you
  • Prescriptions and results of medical tests
  • Copies of medical records
  • Your Social Security Number and the Social Security Numbers of your spouse and any children under the age of 18
  • A certified copy of your birth certificate
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or of legal residency, if you were born outside the U.S., like naturalization papers, your U.S. passport, or your green card
  • A certified copy of your military discharge papers (Form DD 214), if you were in the military
  • Copies of recent tax records or W-2 forms
  • Information on any Workers’ Compensation you’ve gotten
  • A list of the types of jobs you've done for the past 15 years

Social Security provides a detailed checklist of the information you need to complete the application process.

Other Benefits

It takes a while for your SSDI application to be reviewed and, if you qualify, benefits don’t begin until five months after your disability began. If you are approved, you start getting monthly payments, but have to wait another two years before you automatically start getting Medicare health coverage.

While you are waiting for Social Security to review your application and then for Medicare to begin, see what else might help you. At first, try to use your job's sick pay or vacation pay and see if your company has a private short-term or long-term disability insurance plan. Most jobs in California also qualify for State Disability Insurance (SDI), a state program that gives a cash benefit for one year or less to Californians with disabilities who worked before becoming disabled. Learn more about it and how to apply in DB101's California State Disability (SDI) article.

Then, you can apply for other benefits, including:

You can apply for these benefits:

If you served in the military and are a veteran, you may also qualify for VA Disability Compensation or VA Pension benefits.

SSDI and SSI at the same time

You may qualify for SSDI and SSI benefits at the same time. The SSI program counts SSDI payments as unearned income. For a single person who lives independently, this means that if you get $1,203 or more per month in SSDI, you don't qualify for SSI benefits.

If you get less than $1,203 per month from SSDI and you don’t have any other income, you may qualify for SSI benefits. Usually, you get a combined total of $1,203 in benefits each month between the two programs.

For example, if you get $500 per month from SSDI and have no other income, you could get $703 per month from SSI.

Note: You have to apply for SSI separately. Learn more in DB101's SSI article.

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