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The Application Process for Social Security Disability

Editor’s note: This blog post is the third installment in a three-part series about Social Security Disability benefits and vision loss. The first installment explained the disability benefit programs in the US and the second installment explained the eligibility requirements for each. This final installment will focus on effectively preparing and submitting your application for disability benefits.


As previously explained, disability benefits are available to those who can no longer work due to vision loss or impairment. These benefits are offered through two separate programs—Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Although, the application process for each of these programs is often long and complicated, there are certain steps you can take to increase your chances of approval.

Application Preparation
One of the most important steps to submitting a successful application is to prepare ahead of time. In addition to the application forms, the SSA will also need to see medical and financial proof of your disability. Be sure to collect the appropriate records and documents prior to submitting your application. Medical proof may include the following:

  • Documentation of your diagnosis
  • A history of hospitalizations or medical appointments
  • A history of any treatments you’ve received and your response to them
  • Vision tests—particularly those outlined in the SSA’s Blue Book
  • Findings of physical and mental examinations
  • Written statements from your treating physicians.

Non-medical documents will include appropriate forms of identification, information about your family members, financial statements, and records of your previous employment. For a complete list of non-medical requirements, visit the Adult Disability Checklist or the Childhood Disability Checklist.

Be sure to collect as many of these documents as possible. If you cannot access certain records, you should begin your application anyway. Although this may slow down the processing of your claim, the SSA can help you collect any missing information.

Submitting Your Application
Once you have collected the necessary records, you can begin the application process online or in person at your local Social Security office. If you are applying on behalf of a child, you will be required to attend an in-person interview with a local SSA representative.

The actual application is made up of several forms. If an applicant is unable to complete these on their own, a family member or caretaker is allowed to fill them out on the applicant’s behalf. Be sure to take your time when completing the application paperwork. It is important to provide detailed answers. Any missing or incomplete information could potentially cause your claim to be delayed or even denied.

Receiving a Decision
After submitting your application for disability benefits, you may not receive a decision for several months. If your claim is approved, you will receive a letter in the mail outlining your award and payment schedule.

Unfortunately, more than half of all initial disability applications are denied. If this happens to you, do not panic and do not give up. You are allowed to appeal the SSA’s decision within 60 days of receiving your notice of denial. If you do not file your appeal within the given period, you will be forced to start the application process all over again. For this reason, we suggest you file your appeal as soon as possible.

Although facing the appeals process is often overwhelming and discouraging, it is often a necessary step toward receiving disability benefits. In fact, many more applicants are approved during appeals than during the initial application.

Remain organized and persistent in your efforts and you will increase your chances of approval. To learn more about the appeal process, visit the following page:

To learn more about applying for disability benefits with vision loss or impairment, click here:

We hope that the information we have provided in this three-part series was helpful when applying for Social Security disability benefits. For more information on Social Security go to their main site at