April 16, 2014 at 12:21 p.m.

By Kirk Larson

Social Security Western Washington Public Affairs Specialist

Disability is something most people don’t like to discuss. But if you’re not able to work because you have a disabling condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death, then it’s a subject you may not be able to avoid.

In the state of Washington there are over 178,000 people receiving monthly payments from Social Security Disability benefits. The average payment is about $1160 per month. The County with the highest average monthly payment is Wahkiakum with $1282 and the County with the lowest average monthly payment is Columbia with $1028. King County has an average monthly payment of $1187.

You can apply for disability benefits even if you are still working. Generally, your wages would need to be below $1,070 or $1,800 for a blind individual, however, there are some exceptions.

You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. It may take you months to obtain all your medical records and for us to process an application for disability benefits.

The types of information we need include:

• medical records or documentation you have; we can make copies of your records and return your originals;

• the names, addresses, and phone numbers for any doctors, hospitals, medical facilities, treatment centers, or providers that may have information related to your disabling condition; and

• the names, addresses, and phone numbers for recent employers and the dates worked for each employer.

If you don’t have all of the information handy, that’s no reason to delay. You should still apply for benefits right away. Social Security can assist you in getting the necessary documents, including obtaining your medical records. Just keep in mind that if you do have the information we need, it will probably speed up the time it takes to make a decision.

The fastest and most convenient way to apply for disability is online at You can save your application as you go, so you can take a break at any time.

If you prefer, you may call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, to make an appointment to apply at your local Social Security office or to set up an appointment for someone to take your application over the phone.

If you are approved for disability benefits, that doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to work again. In fact, Social Security has special rules called “work incentives” that allow you to test your ability to work.

Learn more about disability benefits and take advantage of the helpful Disability Starter Kit at

Kirk Larson is a Social Security Administration Public Affairs Specialist located in Seattle and serving Western Washington

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