To file for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI), you can fill out an application online at Social Security’s website or you can call or go to your local Social Security office. If you call Social Security, an appointment will be set up for you to be interviewed. A field representative will ask you questions and write down your answers on the application form: Form SSA-16-BK, Application for Disability Insurance Benefits. Be sure to include all of your medical conditions that could be considered severe.
If you choose to apply online, after you start the online application process, you will be assigned an application number. Be sure to write down this number right away. You’ll need this number to access your application and to track the status of your application.
Other forms that are a part of the disability application process are Form SSA-3368-BK, Adult Disability Report, which asks you questions about your impairments and your recent work, and Form SSA-3369-BK, Work History Report, which asks for information on your past job duties. If you file online, the work history report is part of the adult disability report.
Provide as much information as possible on the disability report and work history report. Social Security will use these two forms to find out what your limitations are, what job skills you have, and whether you can do your past work. If you did skilled work, it's more likely that Social Security will say there is a less demanding type of job you can switch to.
Social Security will first to check to make sure you have insured status for SSDI and that you are not doing substantial gainful activity (a significant amount of work). If you pass these checks, Social Security will send your application to your state’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) agency. A disability claims examiner at DDS will request your medical records from your doctor(s) and any hospitals you have been admitted to. If you don’t have sufficient medical records, DDS may send you to a Social Security consultative medical exam. When the examiner has enough medical evidence, he or she will decide whether you are disabled according to Social Security’s definition and rules. You'll receive an award or denial letter from Social Security anywhere from two to six months after you apply.