How do I apply for social security disability?


Let's answer this question by going through the 4Ws - Who, What, When, Where.

Who can apply? Those who are unable to earn an income that he or she previously earned due to an injury or sickness and are covered with Social Security can apply. Usually, for one to be eligible, they have already earned enough work credits (by working not less than five years for the past ten years), is paying FICA taxes and have earnings that are over a specified base threshold. Some younger employees (who don't have the requisite work credits) may also be eligible. There are also some cases where dependents are eligible to receive disability benefits.

What are the things to remember when applying for social security disability? When applying for social security disability, you should go through the 5-steps that will help to determine whether you are "disabled". These are:

  1. Are you working? Are you involved in a Substantial Gainful activity? If you are earning more than a specified base amount, you may not be eligible.  
  2. Is your condition severe? Your condition must be severe enough that you are no longer able to function as you used to - you are not able to perform work or home activities you can easily do previously.
  3. Is your condition included in the list of impairments? Social Security has a list of medical conditions that can be payable for disability benefits. If your condition is not in the list, you should sufficiently prove that you are unable to perform your duties as a result of the impairment.
  4. Can you do the work you did previously?
  5. Can you do other kinds of work? Social Security will look into your educational level, age, work experience and condition, both mentally and physically.

When should you apply? You should apply for the benefits as soon as you incur the disability (or someone could do so in your behalf). Social Security will start to pay only until after the sixth month of your disability. You should show that the disability is likely to last for at least 12 months, or is likely to result in your death.

Where should you apply? You can go online and file your application through the Social Security website. You can also contact your Social Security office - you can do this by phone, mail or in person.

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