For Social Security purposes, “disability” is defined as the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” The determination must be based on medical evidence that describes the severity of the impairment. Sometimes the claimant’s work history is relevant evidence in a “disability” determination as well.

Absolutely not. The entire application process can be completed from your house (using the phone or internet).

How do I apply for Social Security Disability benefits?

One way you can apply for Social Security Disability benefits is to go to the Social Security District Office and file the claim in person. Alternatively, you can call Social Security at (800) 772-1213, where they will arrange a telephone interview with your local office and mail all necessary forms to you. Applications can also be filed partially online; just follow the straight-forward instructions on

When can I file for benefits?

You can apply at any time. You can even file on the day you become disabled if you believe you’ll be unable to work for one or more years.

Do most claims get denied?

Unfortunately yes. Most claims are denied on initial review, and around 90% of those denied claims are then denied again on Reconsideration (the second stage of review).

But don’t be deterred! Most appealed claims with legal representation at the Hearing (the third stage of review) are ultimately approved. Be persistent!

There are several types of Social Security benefits for which an individual may be eligible. Individuals may be eligible for more than one type of disability benefit, and are not required to choose only one disability benefit. You must be “disabled” before you can qualify for any type of benefit, and there may also be additional non-medical requirements depending on the benefit.

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