Social Security Disability Application Guide

Applying for Social Security DisabilitySummary

  • Your Social Security Disability application (SSDI) should be submitted as early as possible; applications can be submitted even without all medical documentation on hand;
  • SSDI applications are accepted online, in person or via phone;
  • SSDI application status can be checked online;
  • Instructions and application are available on the Social Security Administration website

Before you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI), you should familiarize yourself with the overall process so as to be better prepared for what lies ahead. We have compiled some information to help you navigate your way through your application and make the process as simple as possible.

How to begin the application process

Once you have decided to apply for SSDI, you first must decide upon an application method.

Ways to apply for SSDI

There are 3 ways to submit an SSDI application in Sacramento:

  • Online –
  • By Phone – 1-800-772-1213
  • In Person – SUITE A, 8581 FOLSOM BLVD, SACRAMENTO, CA 95826 (If you plan on applying in person, make sure you call and schedule and appointment first.)

You can apply online at the Social Security Administration’s website. In order to apply online, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be at least 18 years of age;
  • You must not currently be receiving any benefits under your own social security record;
  • You must be unable to work due to a disability which is expected to last more than 12 months or result in your death; and
  • You must not have been denied disability benefits in the last 60 days.

If you wish to apply in person, you must call and make an appointment at your local SSA office. Information on how to find your local office, as well as how to apply over the phone, is listed below.
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Supporting documentation you will need for your application

Regardless of which method you choose for submitting your application, you must be prepared to provide the following documentation to prove your eligibility for Social Security Disability:

  • Birth certificate or other proof of birth;
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you were not born in the United States;
  • U.S. military discharge paper(s) if you served in the military before 1968;
  • W-2 forms(s) and/or self-employment tax returns for last year;
  • Medical evidence relating to your disability which you have on hand, such as relevant medical records, doctors’ reports, and test results; and
  • Award letters, pay stubs, settlement agreements or other documentation reflecting any temporary or permanent workers’ compensation benefits you may have received.

Any documents in your possession should either be mailed to the SSA or taken to your local office for review. The SSA accepts photocopies of your medical records. Any records that you submit to the SSA will be returned to you. And if you submit your documents to the SSA via the postal service, include an extra sheet of paper in the envelope which includes your name and social security number. Do not write directly onto your medical records.

Of these requirements, the medical documentation is usually the most difficult, or time-consuming, to obtain. But any required medical documents that you do not have in your possession at the time of your application will be requested on your behalf by the SSA. Of course, if you already have the documents and can provide them yourself, then in theory your application will be processed more quickly.


When should you submit your application?

You should always submit your application as soon as you are reasonably certain that you qualify. The earlier you submit your application, the better. This is due to the extreme backlog in the SSDI application review process. The sooner your application is submitted, the sooner it can be processed.

Also, note that even if you do not have all of your medical documentation, you should apply as soon as possible. The SSA will request any missing documentation that they need.

How do you add to or edit your SSDI application?

If you are submitting your application online, then you will have the opportunity to go in and edit your application via the SSA’s online system. Otherwise, if you need to make a change after you have submitted your application, you must contact your local SSA office. This is also how you will need to notify the SSA of any changes to your address or to your income/employment situation.

What happens after you apply?

Once your application has been submitted, the SSA will do the following:

  • Confirm receipt of your application (electronically or by mail, depending upon your application method);
  • Review and process your application;
  • Notify you if they need additional information or documentation;
  • Inform you if your family members may be eligible to receive benefits on the basis of your application;
  • Notify you of their decision by mail.

Once you have applied, you can check the status of your application online. See below for the application status website.

List of relevant websites and resources

If you are looking for additional information about applying for SSDI benefits, please review the following list of resources:


Making the decision to apply for SSDI can be a difficult one. Fortunately, the SSA’s implementation of an online application process has simplified the process in many ways. Regardless of how you choose to apply, remember to submit your application as soon as possible in order to expedite a decision in your case. And if your application is denied, it is in your best interest to seek out an experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer and to file an appeal. The application process may be challenging, but an SSDI award is well worth the efforts.

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