The disabled community is vast and diverse, and not everyone needs the same kind of help as others. Thus, disability services and supplemental income exist to help those who cannot earn an income on their own. The process is lengthy, and most disability cases are handled in court, so building a solid case is vital. Here are a few steps to get started on applying for SSDI or SSI:

What is Considered a Disability?

Before getting into an application, there are a few things to consider. The first is to determine what your state deems a disability in terms of social security. The Social Security Administration’s website states that legally, a disability is “the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” In other words, for someone who is disabled to qualify for disability income, they must be unable to earn a liveable income because of some form of physical impairment or mental illness.

Pre-Application Tips

The next step before getting into an application is to assemble your disability team and resources. This includes any doctors, caregivers, lawyers, and family members you may need to help win your case.

Get Doctor’s Testimonies

Information about your physical and mental condition from your doctor is the most crucial part of building a disability case. Some necessary documents you’ll need to provide include:

  • Your Birth Certificate
  • Your Social Security Card
  • A driver’s license or ID
  • Proof of citizenship, or “lawful alien status.”
  • Your insurance company information
  • Your primary care physician’s contact information


Other information you’ll need from doctors includes testimony: written and signed statements from your doctors containing a statement that you have a disability, it affects your daily life, how it affects your life concerning their field of expertise, and how long this impairment is projected to last. It is always a solid option to get signed testimonies from as many of your doctors as possible, not just your primary care doctor. Physical therapists, counselors, psychiatrists, and specialist doctors (like oncologists) can provide documentation if requested.

Consider a Disability Lawyer

Another option to add to your team is a lawyer, specifically a disability lawyer. Disability lawyers work with applicants to navigate the arduous process of fighting for disability, filling out applications, and making critical legal decisions regarding your rights. In addition, people with lifelong disabilities may benefit from hiring a disability lawyer to help them present their case in court. Disability lawyers are experts in their field, and you may have a bit more luck with your case with a professional’s assistance. Many disability lawyers offer a free consultation for those looking to see if they need help with their case.

The Application

You can apply for disability directly through the Social Security Administration’s website or by calling one of the toll-free numbers provided on their information page. While you fill out the application, make sure you have documents containing your personal information at the ready. Doctors will have to send their notes either directly to the disability office or your disability lawyer for processing.


To learn more about how you can apply for disability or help a loved one through the applications process, speak with your doctor.



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