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Disability & SSI
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Qualify and Apply

Updated: January 03, 2008


We pay disability benefits under two programs:

  • The Social Security disability insurance program pays benefits to you and certain family members if you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.

Your adult child also may qualify for benefits on your earnings record if he or she has a disability that started before age 22.

  • The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources.

    SSI benefits also are payable to people 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial limits.

For most people, the medical requirements for disability payments are the same under both programs and disability is determined by the same process.

Whether you apply for Social Security or SSI disability, we ask you for information about your medical condition, work and education history to help us decide if you are disabled under our rules.


Applying for benefits
Appealing our decision
Information for Advocates, Attorneys and Third Party Representatives
Additional information

Applying for benefits

Apply as soon as you become disabled. Most of the application forms can be completed online, depending on the type of benefit for which you apply:


Appealing our decision

If your disability application is denied, the letter we send you explains the reason for the denial and how to request a review of our decision. Depending on the reason, you may be able to request your appeal online.

If your application is denied for

  • Medical reasons, you can complete and submit the required Appeal Request and Appeal Disability Report online.

    The disability report asks you for updated information about your medical condition and any treatment, tests or doctor visits since we made our decision.

  • Non-medical reasons, you should contact your local Social Security Office to request the review. You also may call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, to request an appeal. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can call our toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.

Information for Advocates, Attorneys and Third Party Representatives

If you are an Advocate, Attorney or Third Party Representative and you are helping someone prepare an Internet Social Security Benefit Application and/or an Internet Disability Report, we need additional information from you on the application.


Additional information

Refer to the following sections for additional information about the disability program.

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Last reviewed or modified Monday Jan 14, 2008
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