If you are unable to work because of a disability, it may be an illness or injury that has recently come about or something that has gradually worsened over time. Being unable to work can feel very stressful because you have to deal with your disability in addition to worrying about your financial situation.

This is why it is possible to apply for benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). The process can be a confusing one, and an incomplete application can lead to a denial of benefits. This is why it is so important to understand the application process before you start. The following is an overview of what you need to know.

The two types of benefits

SSA handles two types of benefits: Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Social Security Disability is only available to workers who have paid into the system via their taxes. SSI is a needs-based program, so it may be available even if SSD is not. You can apply for both at the same time through SSA.

How to apply

If you are ready to apply, you can do so by phone, online, or in person. You’ll need to provide information about all aspects of your life, from your employment history to your place of birth and your marriage and divorce history. Therefore you should look through this checklist to make sure you have all the information you need to get started.

After you make your application, it will be reviewed, and you may be asked to provide additional information. You may even be asked to attend a consultative exam with another doctor.

If you are worried about being unsuccessful in making a claim, it’s important that you understand your legal rights. It’s also wise to remember that even good claims can be denied. If your claim is unsuccessful, talk to an attorney about your right to appeal.