How to File for Disability in Montana

Two Methods:Determine your EligibilityApply for Benefits

Permanently disabled Montanans have the ability to file for 2 disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). There are offices in 8 of Montana's larger cities that help you file for disability. You will need medical records, financial statements, tax documents and a doctor's evaluation. Then, your application is determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA) office in Billings. If you have been recently diagnosed with a disability, then it is a good idea to apply for disability as soon as possible, as eligibility is time-sensitive. This article will tell you how to file for disability in Montana.

Method 1
Determine your Eligibility

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    Evaluate whether you qualify for disability based on the 5 main requirements. Since Montana does not provide disability benefits for short-term or partial disabilities, you must have a prognosis that says your disability will last longer than 1 year. Look at the 5 following requirements or go to and use the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool.
    • If you are currently working and earn more than $700 per month, you are ineligible.
    • If your disability is not considered severe enough to interfere with basic day-to-day and work-related activities, you are ineligible.
    • Find out if your condition is listed as one of the applicable impairments to receive benefits. Go to the Social Security Administration's website at or request a guide called the "Disability Evaluation Under Social Security," otherwise known as the "Blue Book," from your local Social Security office. If your condition is not listed, it will need to be evaluated as being of equal severity to a similar condition that is listed.
    • If you are still able to do similar work to what you have done within the last 15 years, you are ineligible.
    • If your age, education, past work experience or skills would allow you to do another job, as determined by the Department of Labor, then you are ineligible.
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    Consider whether you should seek help from an agency or a lawyer in completing your disability application. This is a good option if you have problems using a telephone, filling out paperwork or keeping track of important appointments. An application for disability is a process that takes a good amount of time and organization.
    • If you cannot afford a lawyer, then contact Disability Rights Montana at or call (800) 245-4743. You will be asked to fill out a form explaining your illness and needs.
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    Decide if you want to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income. If you have evaluated your condition and are eligible, then you must apply for only 1 of the following programs.
    • Social Security Disability Insurance is applicable for people who are disabled for at least 1 year. It is applicable for people who have worked and paid Social Security taxes. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), "In 2011, for example, you earn one credit for each $1,120 of wages or self-employment income. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled."
    • Supplemental Security Income is provided to people who are disabled for at least 1 year. It is available according to your need, rather than previous tax payments. According to the SSA, it is provided to people who have little or no income and "It provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter."
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    Find your local Social Security office. These offices are located in Billings, Butte, Bozeman, Glasgow, Great Falls, Havre, Kalispell and Missoula. The office will give you forms, fill out your application and determine whether you should be considered by the Disability Determination Services Office in Billings.

Method 2
Apply for Benefits

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    Make an appointment with your local Social Security office. If you are applying for Supplemental Security Income, you must apply in person. If you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance, you can choose to apply in person or start the process online.
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    Gather the following documents if you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance:
    • Personal documents, such as your Social Security card, and proof of citizenship, address and age. A birth certificate shows proof of age and proof of citizenship, if you were born in the United States. Otherwise, you can provide a United States passport or naturalization certificate.
    • Medical documents, such as your doctor's, hospital's and caseworker's names, phone numbers and addresses. You will also need to provide your medical records and a list of all medication that you are taking. Provide all applicable tests and lab results.
    • Work documents, such as information about your recent place or places of employment. Gather your W-2 documents or federal tax returns, if you are self-employed.
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    Gather the following documents if you are applying for Supplemental Security Income:
    • Personal documents, such as your Social Security card, proof of age, marriage documents and proof of citizenship.
    • Income documents, such as payroll stubs, tax returns and work expenses. You must also provide bank statements, investment statements and life or disability insurance statements, if you have them.
    • Residence documents, such as a lease, rental receipts or property tax records. You must also provide detailed information about anyone else living in the house and receipts for living expenses, such as utilities and food.
    • Medical documents, such as medical records, tests, laboratory results, medications and the names, addresses and phone numbers of doctors and hospitals that treat you.
    • Work documents, such as W-2s or federal tax returns. You should also be able to provide job descriptions, hours worked and other detailed information about jobs within the last 15 years.
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    Go to your disability application appointment, as scheduled. If you are applying for SSDI, you should go early or in advance, in order to give yourself time to fill out the claim application. If you are applying for SSI, the Social Security office will fill out the paperwork for you.
    • Apply for SSDI online, at, if you would prefer. This is the fastest way to start your claim. You will fill out the same form you would get at a SSDI meeting. The application will reference the documents you have gathered and ask you to provide your personal information. Once you submit your form online, you will need to gather your documents and mail them to your local Social Security office.
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    Sign your disability application in front of a witness. Submit your application at your appointment or by mail.
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    Wait approximately 1 month to hear if your claim has been denied or approved. The Disability Determination Services Office will contact you with the outcome, or to request more information. You may need to go in for a separate medical evaluation.


  • If you have been denied a Montana disability claim, you can appeal it. You can go through the Internet appeals process on the SSA website, or you can appeal through your local Social Security office.
  • If the Disability Determination Services Office requires more medical testing, they will pay for the medical and travel expenses related to the tests.
  • If you are applying for disability for a child in Montana, you will need to provide documents for yourself and your child. You can find a "Blue Book" with a list of applicable child disabilities at your local Social Security office.
  • Make sure to bring the original documents to your appointment or include them with your application. Your claim can be denied, if you do not provide the original documents.
  • Make copies of everything you submit to the Social Security Administration.


  • Do not wait to apply for your SSDI benefits. You must have worked and paid Social Security taxes recently, in order to be eligible.
  • Do not wait to apply for SSI. Payments are not backdated, and the earliest payments can go out is 1 month after you file your application.

Things You'll Need

  • Lawyer (optional)
  • Phone
  • Medical records
  • Social security card
  • Recent W-2 or federal tax return.
  • Proof of citizenship
  • Birth certificate
  • Rental receipts or property tax documents
  • Living expenses
  • Postage
  • Copier

Article Info

Categories: Disability Forms Permits and Benefits