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If you are no longer able to work because of a disability, you might consider applying for Supplemental Security Income and/or Social Security Disability Insurance. However, if you wait too long to file, you might jeopardize the type of disability you are eligible for. The process of filing for both types of disability is the same.

What is the difference between SSI and SSDI?
SSI (Supplemental Security Income) pays benefits based on financial need, even if you have never worked, or if you have not worked enough. SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) is paid to people who have worked and paid Social Security taxes and have obtained sufficient quarters to qualify for benefits. You can call Social Security at 800-772-1213 or visit them online at www.ssa.gov to start the application process. You may also visit one of the local offices.

Stages of a Social Security Claim

  1. Application – If you are denied, you may file a Request for Reconsideration.
  2. Request for Reconsideration – If you are denied, you may file a Request for Hearing.
  3. Hearing – If you are denied, you may request a Review of the Decision by the Appeals Council.
  4. Appeals Council – Your claim may be approved, sent back to the judge for another hearing or denied.
  5. Federal Court – If you are denied again by the Appeals Council, you can file an appealin Federal District Court.

All appeals should be done within 60 days of the denial date.

How Do I Know That I am Disabled?
Social Security’s rules for disability are different than other agencies (like Workers’ Compensation or the VA). Social Security law defines disability as: The inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity, because of a physical or mental impairment, that will last longer than 12 months. This means you are not necessarily disabled just because you cannot return to your previous job(s). It also means you should be getting current medical treatment for your disaiblity. (If you have no insurance, you may contact Clark County Social Services at 702-455-4270 to apply for temporary medical assistance care.)

In your daily life you will want to pay attention to how your disability affects:

  • Your daily living activities (for example, grocery shopping, doing household chores, cooking).
  • Your ability to participate in social activities (for example, being with friends, getting along with other people).
  • Your concentration, persistence and pace (your ability to concentrate or remember things, follow through with tasks or complete tasks at a reasonable pace).

Supporting Your Disability Claim

  • Get current medical treatment and keep a complete list of doctors with addresses and phone numbers.
  • Every time you go to the doctor, report all of your symptoms.
  • If you have substance abuse issues, get help (it could affect your claim).
  • Keep a simple log/diary of the side effects of medications, doctor’s appointments and how you feel from day to day.
  • Fully explain any answers on forms you fill out. (For example, if you can do dishes but have to rest while doing so, explain that.)


  1. Don’t understand something Social Security said or sent to you or you have questions about Social Security.
  2. Need assistance completing forms.
  3. Have been on Social Security benefits and are being cut off after a review of your disablity or because of an oustanding felony warrant.
  4. Receive a denial of the Request for Reconsidation or have filed a Request for Hearing.

At the Hearing Level We May:

  • Help you file a Request for Hearing.
  • Obtain medical records and update Social Security’s file.
  • Evaluate the merits of your case.
  • Prepare you for and represent you at the hearing.