How to file your initial Social Security Disability Claim

So you were injured on the job or you have developed a disability. You have decided to explore your options and see if you are eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Before you take the first step you should be sure of a few things. Be convinced that your disability is severe, that it causes you to be limited in your daily life, the condition has lasted for longer than twelve months and you have a doctor that will support your position. If these things are true, it is time to file for benefits.

To begin the process there are three ways to file your initial claim:

  1. Apply in person at the Social Security Office
  2. Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) by phone
  3. Apply online at the SSA website at

Once you have completed your application you will have to complete a few additional forms:

  1. Adult disability report: This is where you tell the SSA why you are disabled. Do not hold back, include all the relevant information and explain why it is that you are disabled
  2. Daily activity report: this where you explain what your daily activities are and how your disability affects those activities.
  3. Work activity report: you will only have to fill this out if you are currently employed. This is where you explain how your performed your job and what the requirements are.
  4. Third-party activities questionnaire: Sometimes the SSA will have a third party who is close to you or familiar with your life fill out information about your daily activities from a third party point of view. Do not fret over this form, often it provides information that is helpful to your case.

Regardless of the method you choose to apply, your claim will need to be supported by medical records

Some of these records may include:

  • Records from doctors, hospitals, clinics, and therapists
  • Reports from doctors from whom you are presently receiving treatment
  • Laboratory tests, x-rays, and other records of diagnostic testing; and
  • Lists of all the medications that you are taking

You should provide copies of all medical documents to the SSA office that is assigned to you and as soon as possible. In addition the SSA will have you fill out a Form SSA-827 that allows the SSA to contact your medical providers directly so that it can obtain any additional information that may be missing from your file.

Tips for the initial application process

  • Make sure to list all of your medical conditions, not just the worst one
  • You are not a doctor, therefore do not attempt to describe your condition like a doctor, speak in non-medical terms
  • Submit as much medical evidence as you can
  • Fill all of your forms out completely
  • Have a family member or friend review your application before you submit it
  • Be truthful about your work history
  • Respond to the SSA promptly, as any delay will prolong the evaluation process[1]

[1] Berkley, Benjamin H., Win Your Social Security Disability Case, (Sphinx Legal, 2008)