Social Security Disability and SSI Questions and Answers

Thinking of applying for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?  Here some answers to common questions.  This will be part of a continuing series of questions and answers on the blog.

When Do I Apply?

You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. It can take a long time to process an application for disability benefits (three to five months). If you apply for

  • Social Security, disability benefits will not begin until the sixth full month of disability. The Social Security disability waiting period begins with the first full month after the date it is decided that your disability began.
  • In Supplemental Security Income (SSI), SSI disability benefits are paid for the first full month after the date you filed your claim, or, if later, the date you become eligible for SSI.

How Do I Apply?

To apply for disability benefits, you will need to complete an application for Social Security Benefits and the Disability Report. You can complete the Disability Report at You can also print the Disability Report, complete it and return it to your local Social Security office. Social Security may be able to process your application faster if you help them by getting any other information they need.  You can also apply by calling the toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. Representatives there can make an appointment for your application to be taken over the telephone or at any convenient Social Security office.  People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call toll-free “TTY” number, 1-800-325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Monday through Friday.

What Do I Need?

The claims process for disability benefits is generally longer than for other types of Social Security benefits. It can take up to six months at each of the disability application and appeal levels. The wait for a hearing has grown as the backlog of cases grows – in many cities it is well over a year.

To complete the application, you should gather the following information:

  1. Your Social Security number;
  2. Your birth certificate or other evidence of your date of birth (if you do not have a birth certificate, you may request one from the State where you were born);
  3. Your military discharge papers, if you were in the military service;
  4. Your spouse’s birth certificate and Social Security number if he or she is applying for benefits;
  5. Your children’s birth certificates and Social Security numbers if they are applying for benefits;
  6. Your checking or savings account information, so your benefits can be directly deposited;
  7. Names, addresses, and phone numbers of doctors, hospitals, clinics, and institutions that treated you and dates of treatment;
  8. Names of all medications you are taking;
  9. Medical records from your doctors, therapists, hospitals, clinics, and caseworkers;
  10. Laboratory and test results;
  11. A summary of where you worked in the past 15 years and the kind of work you did;
  12. A copy of your W-2 Form (Wage and Tax Statement), or if you are self-employed, your federal tax return for the past year;
  13. Dates of prior marriages if your spouse is applying.

The documents presented as evidence must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. SSA cannot accept uncertified or notarized photocopies as evidence since they cannot verify their authenticity. Do not delay filing for benefits just because you do not have all of the information you need. The Social Security office will be glad to help you.

If you are applying for Supplemental Security Income benefits you also need the following:

  1. information about the home where you live, such as your mortgage or your lease and landlord’s name;
  2. payroll slips;
  3. bank books;
  4. insurance policies;
  5. car registration;
  6. burial fund records;
  7. and other information about your income and the things you own.

If you need more information about a personal injury matter (car wreck, truck accident, boating accident, slip and fall, etc.), SSD/SSI matter, or a workers compensation matter, please contact the Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser for a free case evaluation. We can be reached at (865) 584-1211 or (800) 806-4611 or through our website at




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