You can apply for disability benefits in three ways.
1) You can apply in person at a Social Security office. Depending on your local office’s size, you may need an appointment or you may just be able to drop in at any time. Set aside at least 1-2 hours to complete the application. To find your local office
2) You can apply by phone by calling 1-800-772-1213 and setting up an appointment. Again set aside at least 2 hours to complete the application.
3) You can apply for benefits online at SSA. You can save your process allowing you to switch computers or come back and finish your application at a later time.
For your application you should have the names and addresses of all of your doctors, names, addresses, and description of all positions you have held for the last 15 years, plus the name and contact information of at least one other person who knows about your disability.
Of course you can do the application yourself or you can hire an attorney to assist you with completing the process. Some attorney’s will want to sit down with you face to face, usually in their office, to complete the online application. Other’s, and this is my preference, will do them by phone, allowing you to remain in the comfort of your own home to complete the application. I prefer to do them over the phone because I find my clients are much more comfortable if they are at home in their favorite chair or position, then sitting in an uncomfortable chair in my office for 2 hours. It also eliminates a client missing the appointment because they do not feel up to leaving the house or cannot find transportation
The most important thing to remember about applying for benefits is that you should do so as soon as possible after you realize you will be out of work for more than 12 months. This will help to protect any benefits that may be due to you, especially if you are filing for SSI.