How to Apply for Long-Term Disability

by Sarah McLeod ; Updated July 27, 2017
Disability benefits make a huge difference in the lives of the medically impaired.

Items you will need

  • All military service discharge information (Form DD 214)
  • Previous year's W-2 Form and other tax forms

In order to apply for long term disability, a qualified applicant must meet the United States Social Security Administration's definition of disability. This means that an applicant must not be physically able to do the work they did before applying, their medical hindrance must prevent the applicant from doing other work, and the said disability must have lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or result in the applicant's death. In addition, the SSA has a list of impairments that automatically qualifies an applicant for the receipt of benefits.

Step 1

Go to the SSA's online disability application (a link is provided below under Resources) to complete four short pages of self-identifying information, contact information, language preferences and citizenship information. Upon completion of these four pages of data, an application number is provided to be used for later application completion or to check on the status of an application.

Step 2

Click "Next" and answer questions about any other names or social security numbers held, marriage information, children information, any military service held, employer and earnings information both in and outside the United States and enter bank account information for direct deposit.

Step 3

Click "Next" to go to the third part of the application. Answer questions about any other social security benefits you may have applied for. Click "Next" and answer disability-specific questions.

Step 4

Click "Next" to provide any additional comments. You may review your application for discrepancies before clicking "Submit."

Step 5

Go to the online adult disability report in which you will complete about 90 minutes of medical information questions including diagnoses information, prescribed medications, and treating physicians. You will also fill in information about previous five years of education and work experience. Review and submit.

Step 6

Complete the Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration form (link is below under Resources) authorizing the government to access medical records. Take the form to a local social security office. It will take 3 to 5 five months for the SSA to process your application based on the submitted disability report and medical document release form.


  • Once approved, your first social security benefit will start six months after the beginning of your disability.

About the Author

Sarah McLeod began writing professionally for the federal government In 1999. In 2002 she was trained by Georgetown University's Oncology Chief to abstract medical records and has since contributed to Phase I through Phase IV research around the country. McLeod holds a Bachelor of Arts in human services from George Washington University and a Master of Science in health science from Touro University.

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