You Must Apply To Receive A Decision

Q: An accident injury prevents me from returning to work. Can I get Social Security disability?

A: Filing an application is the only way to receive a formal decision. While inability to return to previous work is part of the requirements, the Social Security disability decision includes much more. 

In addition to the work requirement, to be found disabled under Social Security rules you cannot do the work that you did before, you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical conditions, and your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or expected to result in death. Age, work experience and education are considered in the decision.

Learn about Social Security disability, or file an application online, at From there, go to the Disability Planner section. 

Within the Disability Planner is a section about how you qualify for Social Security disability benefits including work requirements, disability definitions and the steps followed in making the decision.

Completely different from Social Security retirement, survivors and disability programs, Social Security administers the need-based Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, also having disability benefits.  

The entire Social Security disability application, including your medical background questionnaire and medical releases, can be completed online. Following the “Apply for Disability“ link at tells you more about filing online, including information needed to complete the application. Concerning the medical questionnaire and releases, that information also applies when filing for SSI.

The same medical background questionnaire and medical releases can be completed online for Supplemental Security Income but you must speak to a Social Security representative to complete the SSI application. Appointments can be made by calling the SSA national toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).