When to Apply 

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits have a 5 full month waiting period. The waiting period begins the first full month from the date the Social Security Administration decides that your disability began. This means you will not receive any benefit payments before the sixth full month of your disability. 

Note that there is no waiting period if the disability is a result of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), provided the SSDI benefits were approved after July 23, 2020.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits are paid the first month after you have filed your claim. If later, it is paid on the date you became eligible for SSI. 

How to Apply

To apply for SSDI benefits, you must:

  • Be aged 18 years or older
  • Not be receiving any Social Security benefits
  • Not have been denied disability benefits in the last 60 days
  • Not be able to work due to a medical condition or injury that is expected to last at least 1 year, or that results in death

You can apply for SSDI benefits over the phone, online, or in person at the local Social Security Administration offices. To apply over the phone, call the SSA free of charge at 1-800-772-1213. SSA representatives work between 8:00AM and 7:00PM Monday through Friday.   Wait times to speak to a representative are typically shorter early in the day (between 8:00AM and 10:00AM local time) or later in the afternoon (between 4:00PM and 7:00PM local time).  SSA is less busy later in the week (Wednesday to Friday) and later in the month.

Note that if you are hard of hearing or deaf, you can call the toll-free “TTY” number TTY 1-800-325-0778 between 8:00AM and 7:00PM Monday through Friday. If you want to apply in person, you can visit the SSA offices or first make an appointment by calling the number 1-800-772-1213 free of charge.

Online application is by far the most popular option. This is because the online application allows you to apply immediately without having to make an appointment. It is convenient, you can save the application before submission, save money on trips to a Social Security office, and complete the process from anywhere, even outside the United States.  You cannot apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) online.  

Whichever application method you use; you will need to provide:

  • Personal information such as your date and place of birth, your Social Security number, personal information of your spouse and children, including former spouse/s, and the Routing Transit Number of your bank or other financial institution. 
  • Information about your medical condition, including the contact information of someone who knows about your medical conditions and who can help with the application and detailed information about your injuries, illness, or condition, such as the medications you are on, the tests you have had, and the name and address of your doctors and hospitals. 
  • Information about your work, such as your income during the year you had your illness or injury, your employer’s details, your Social Security Statement, and information on other benefits you have filed or intend to file.  
  • Documents in support of the above information, such as your birth certificate, W-2 forms, medical records, pay stubs, and so on. 

Applying for Someone

You can apply on behalf of a friend or relative who is too injured to apply. You do not have to be appointed as the representative of the person you are helping. However, suppose the person you are assisting decides to officially appoint you as the approved representative to deal with Social Security. In that case, you have to submit the Appointment of Representative form, Form SSA-1696-U4. Even when you are helping, the person applying for benefits must sign the application personally. When applying for someone, the SSA may ask for such information as your relationship to the person you are helping and the organization you work for. 

At Social Security Law Center, we have been assisting Oklahoma clients to make SSDI applications since 1990.