How do I Apply for Social Security Disability?

You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. You can complete some or all of the forms online or you may call the Social Security Administration (SSA) toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 to schedule an appointment. Staff personnel at SSA office can assist you either in person or by phone.

Build your case

You must be able to prove, by furnishing medical and other evidence, that you are disabled by lupus (not just that you have lupus) and meet the Social Security definition of disability. Your doctor cannot “declare” that you are disabled. You and your doctor must provide evidence that proves lupus prevents you from engaging in any substantial gainful employment and that this condition is expected to last for a continuous period of at least twelve months, or result in death.

What to expect

It can take between three and five months to obtain an initial decision.  Almost two out of three applicants are denied benefits initially, and most people who file a written appeal (called “reconsideration”) also are denied. The third level appeal before an administrative law judge is most successful.  More than 60 percent of denials are overturned at this stage,  so you must be patient. You can improve your odds of being approved for disability by building a solid case based on appropriate medical evidence. You may also want to consult with a disability lawyer to assist you through the process.

Request an appeal online

Recent changes to the appeals process now make it possible to request an appeal online if you were recently denied Social Security benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This can save you time and may lead to a faster decision. You can also go online to check the status of your appeal.

To request an appeal online:

  1. Go to
  2. Click on the blue button labeled “appeal medical decision”
  3. Check the appeals page to make sure you have the electronic documents you need to submit
  4. Click the “start a new appeal” button under “submit an appeal”