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Social Security: How to Apply

Find an Attorney

It is always in your best interest to speak with an attorney about your case. If you cannot afford an attorney, a legal aid organization may be able to represent you for free or at reduced cost. However, certain restrictions apply and they may not be able to take your case. You may also qualify for reduced-cost legal services through the LSBA's Modest Means Directory. You also have a right to represent yourself, and there are diverse services available to help you learn more.

Find attorneys and services in your area.

There are three ways to apply for benefits:

  • A person can apply online (SSDI only)
  • A person can apply by calling 1-800-772-1213  (If you use TTY, call 1-880-325-0778)
  • A person can apply at a local Social Security office. 

Warning! If you apply online you will need to go through a few more steps.  A person can start the application process online but will have to complete it by phone or in person with Social Security.

Social Security lists medical conditions that can get faster review of an application for benefits, called "Compassionate Allowances." These conditions primarily include certain cancers, adult brain disorders, and a number of rare disorders that affect children. Check the list before you apply and if you get diagnosed with a new disorder during the appeals process.   The list gets updated often.   

You may want to ask your doctor for a letter that lists your medical issues or conditions and that says how these limit what you can do. This includes mental as well as physical issues. 

The Social Security Administration collects your medical records when you apply for disability benefits. When you apply for benefits (online, by phone, or in person) have with you a list of your medical providers with the following information: name, address, phone number, treatment received, dates of treatment, and medications prescribed. A case worker will be assigned to you and will collect your medical records. You should receive mail with your caseworker’s contact information, but you can also request it from the Social Security Administration.

You should be getting regular treatment for your health issues before and after you apply for benefits. It is important that you follow what the doctor tells you to do for your health issues.

If your medication is giving you problems or side effects tell your doctor right away.  Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any medication. Social Security must check your medical records to make sure that you really have the health issues you claim. Social Security must also decide if your health issue qualifies you for benefits.  

If You Need to Appeal

Contact Louisiana disability attorneys for help with your appeal.


The Legal Education and Assistance Program (LEAP) is a project sponsored by the Louisiana State Bar Association, with the support of the Louisiana Library Association, the Law Library of Louisiana, LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, and Acadiana Legal Services. LEAP aims to provide support and assistance to public librarians throughout the state by providing them with the tools to help their patrons with their legal questions. LEAP understands that librarians are prohibited from providing legal advice, but instead helps them provide legal information, including referrals to attorneys.

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