Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Apply for Benefits

Apply for Benefits

To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you usually must be insured and have a disability.

However, there are a few situations where you may qualify for benefits even if you’ve never worked or don’t have a disability:

  • If your disability began before you turned 22, you may qualify for Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB).
  • If you are 18 or younger, you may qualify for Child’s Benefits if one of your parents gets Social Security retirement or disability insurance benefits, or is deceased.
  • If your spouse or ex-spouse qualifies for SSDI benefits or Social Security retirement benefits, or qualified before dying, you may also qualify for benefits.

None of these benefits is automatic; you must apply for them at Social Security.

How to Apply

You can apply for SSDI benefits:

  • 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:

Getting Your Application Ready

Get this information ready for your SSDI application:

  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of all doctors, hospitals, and clinics that have treated you medically and the dates of treatment
  • Names of any medications you take
  • Copies of any medical records you have
  • 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 legal residency (if you were born in another country)
  • A certified copy of your military discharge papers (Form DD 214), if you were in the military
  • Your most recent W-2 Form or, if you’re self-employed, your most recent tax return
  • Information on any Workers’ Compensation you’ve gotten
  • A summary of all your jobs during the past 15 years (names of jobs and dates of employment)

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

Other Benefits

It takes Social Security a while to decide whether you have a disability and, if you qualify, SSDI benefits don’t begin until five months after your disability began. If you are approved, you start getting cash benefits, 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, you should see what else might help you. At first, try to use your job's sick pay or vacation pay and see whether your company has a short-term or long-term disability insurance plan.

Then, you can apply for other benefits, including:

You can apply for APA, Medicaid, SNAP (formerly Food Stamps), and ATAP by submitting the DPA Application for Services to your Division of Public Assistance (DPA) office in person or by mail, fax, or email.

SSDI, SSI, and APA at the same time

You may qualify for SSDI, SSI, and APA benefits at the same time. The SSI and APA programs count SSDI payments as unearned income. For a single person who lives independently, this means:

  • If you get $963 or more per month in SSDI, you don't qualify for SSI benefits.
  • If you get $1,325 or more per month in SSDI, you don't qualify for APA cash benefits either, though you may still qualify for APA-related Medicaid.

If you get less than $1,325 per month from SSDI and you don’t have any other income, you may qualify for APA and SSI benefits. Usually, you get a combined total of $1,325 in benefits between the three programs.

For example, if you get $500 from SSDI, you get $463 from SSI and $362 from APA.

Note: You have to apply for these programs separately. Learn more about SSI and APA.

Learn more