How does a deserving claimant file an application for SSI or SSDI? There is no charge to apply for SSDI or SSI. Perhaps the simplest method to start the disability application process is to call Social Security, toll-free, at 800-772-1213. When you call, be prepared to navigate through several levels of voice mail before you get to a real person.
More recently SSA has been experiencing delays at the 800 number call centers because of call overloads brought about by the new Medicare Part D. Generally, the best times to reach the call center are Tuesday through Thursday after 10am EST.
You can also apply in person at your local Social Security office. Here, too, you are likely to experience long delays as SSA district office personnel are very busy.
On-line SSDI Claims Process
The Social Security Administration is attempting to convert is paper processing system to an electronic processing system. Part of this effort has been to encourage on-line disability claim applications which you can access at www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability. I applaud Social Security for enabling this on-line system – however, be aware that it still does not work very well. Certain types of applications may not be filed on-line and, perhaps the biggest problem is that you have no way to see the entire application prior to starting the process. Social Security’s forms have long been difficult to manage.
(I wrote a “how to” book about completing the forms to address this very problem). Having worked with several new clients attempting to file online, I personally found the online process more difficult than the paper process. Hopefully, SSA will continue to work to improve its claim intake processes.
No matter how you apply, I recommend that you file an application for both Disability and SSI. When the Social Security employee asks you when you became disabled, you should give the earliest possible date that you think you became unable to work (we can always amend your “onset date”). Although both of these claim factors can be changed later, it is easier to start your claim off with the right information. You can and should use my new client questionnaire to organize the information you will need to give Social Security.