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Social Security- Questions and Answers on Disability

By Erin Thompson, Public Affairs Specialist, Toledo, OH



How do I apply for disability benefits? And, how long does it take to get a decision after I apply for disability benefits?



You can apply for disability benefits online at www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityssi/apply.html. To get a decision on your disability application usually takes three-to-five months. The time frame can vary depending on

  • The nature of your disability;

  • How quickly we can get your medical evidence from your doctor or other medical source;

  • Whether it’s necessary to send you for a medical examination; and

  • Whether we review your application for quality purposes.

Learn your claim status at www.socialsecurity.gov/claimstatus




I am expecting a child and will be out of work for six months. Can I qualify for short-term disability?



No. Social Security pays only for total disability — conditions that render you unable to work and are expected to last for at least a year or end in death. No benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability, including benefits while on maternity leave.


I have been getting Social Security disability benefits for many years. I’m about to hit my full retirement age. What will happen to my disability benefits?



When you reach “full retirement age” we will switch you from disability to retirement benefits. But you won’t even notice the change because your benefit amount will stay the same. It’s just that when you reach retirement age, we consider you to be a “retiree” and not a disability beneficiary. To learn more, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov.



I need to apply for disability benefits. Where do I start?



Begin by looking at our Disability Starter Kit. You can find it online at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/disability_starter_kits.htm or you can request a copy by calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). The Disability Starter Kit will help you prepare for your application and interview. When you are ready, you can apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability or make an appointment to apply in person at a local Social Security office. And remember, our online disability application is convenient and secure. Don’t stand in line, go online at www.socialsecurity.gov.



My husband has been in poor health for some time, and doctors have recently diagnosed him with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) – commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I’ve heard Social Security has a “fast track” for some people who are disabled. Can you tell me about it?



We have two processes to “fast track” applications for disability benefits. Our Compassionate Allowances initiative allows us to fast track certain cases of individuals with very severe disabilities. There are dozens of different types of disabilities that qualify for this expedited decision, including ALS, and that list continues to expand. Learn more about Compassionate Allowances and see the full list of conditions at www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.

Another way we speed up decisions is with our Quick Disability Determinations initiative, which uses technology to identify applicants who have the most severe disabilities and allows us to expedite our decisions on those cases. Read more about Quick Disability Determinations at www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityresearch/qdd.htm.


I am 57 years old and I currently receive Social Security disability benefits. Can I still get my regular Social Security retirement benefits when I reach full retirement age?



If you are still receiving Social Security disability benefits when you reach your full retirement age, we will automatically switch you from disability benefits to retirement benefits at that point. The money amount will remain the same. For more information, visit our website on disability benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.



Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04/18/19 10:58:17 -0400.

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