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When should I file my Social Security Disability application?

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Find out the best time to file a Social Security Disability application and how to protect your filing date to avoid losing back pay benefits.

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Watch the Video: “When should I file my Social Security Disability application?”

File Your Social Security Application Early

You can file your Social Security Disability application as soon as it appears that you will be disabled for twelve months or that you are not expected to survive for twelve months. Except for a few expedited claims, most disability claims take from three to five months to process, so the sooner you get started on your claim, the sooner you will have a determination. You do not have to wait for other benefits such as workers compensation or sick pay to run out. For more information on this subject, please see our articles “Can I Apply for Social Security Disability While I Am Still Getting Sick Leave or Long-term Disability from My Employer?” and “If I Am Getting Workers Comp, Do I have to Wait Until It Ends Before Applying for Disability Benefits from Social Security?”

Protect Your Filing Date and Your Benefits

If you have already been disabled for seventeen months or more, you need to start your application now—before the end of the month—in order not to lose potential back pay. You can establish an application filing date by calling Social Security’s national toll-free number (800) 772-1213 and telling them that you want to file a disability application. You do not have to complete the application that day. Alternatively, you can protect your disability application filing date and your potential back pay by starting your disability application online at www.socialsecurity.gov and saving it online to finish later. The date that you first contact Social Security about filing a claim will be your disability application date. Then you can take time—up to six months—to gather information for your application and, if desired, appoint an attorney representative. For information on how to file your disability claim, see our article “How Do I File an Application for Social Security Disability Benefits?”

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8 Comments

  1. Cheryl says:

    Is it ok to get a protective filing date for disability, in this situation? I’m currently not working, collecting texas unemployment and trying to sell my house to have money to live on before I file for disability. Then I will finish the disability application. I would like to get a protective date soon, if it is ok. My doctor has been asking me why I haven’t filed for disability yet. I need a 2nd opinion.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Cheryl,

      Apologies for the delayed response. Our website has had a software problem, which is now resolved.

      You can start a disability application at any point you believe that you are disabled. That protects your filing date and you have six months to finish your application. Note that it usually takes two to five months to get a disability decision so completing the application as soon as possible would be to your advantage, especially if your physician thinks you are disabled.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  2. Marcia says:

    I am going to have hand surgery in 2 weeks. My doctor will put me off from work for 6-8 weeks. It will be through workerscomp. but is it possible for me to still get disability? If I can file for disability, when should I file it? And any advice to file easier or faster.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Marcia,

      You will not be eligible for Social Security or SSI disability because you must be disabled for or be expected to be disabled for twelve months to receive those benefits.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  3. michelle says:

    Hey,

    I don’t know where to begin. In February 2011 I got a stroke when I was 17. I graduated high school however, I don’t know where to start being that I’m 21, and still live in my parents house. I want to move out, and am currently employed at an action sport business and a donut shop. I don’t know if I can automatically get money because I’m disabled and I want to go back to school which recently I can drive (left foot gas pedal and a knob). I looked on google about disability councilors and advisors in Peoria, Arizona (which is where I live), but nothing to my needs. Help?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Michelle,

      If you are earning $1,070 or more gross per month, you will not be considered disabled by Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) law. If you are earning less, you might qualify for benefits depending on how much your condition limits you. As far as going to school, you might investigate scholarships by talking with admissions counselors at colleges and/or talk with the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation of your state to see whether they can provide guidance or assistance.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  4. Tony says:

    Hi Kay, I have had severe mental issues that have not allowed me to work for the last 4 years. I had pretty good earnings but could never hold a job down for more than 6 – 8 months due to ADHD Bi Polar and other issues. I have an appointment to see a psychiatrist today for the first time as I have been stubborn and did not want to face up to things but now I have to. I have lived off of possessions I sold over the years and stayed with friends and family but now I have noting and am very despondent. My question is as I have not worked for 5 years but I had possessions that I sold to sustain myself, will that be taken into account in SSDI app process and will that negatively affect me? I have nothing now and have NO income. Also can I backdate my condition in order to maximize available credits as I would have a better 10 year history to calculate from…thanks in advance for your help..

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Tony,

      You should claim the date that you became disabled whether it was when you last worked or some other later date. If your disability date is within five years of when you ceased work and you had enough work in the five years before you stopped work and if Social Security accepts your claimed disability date, you might be approved for Social Security Disability. Otherwise, your potential eligibility will be limited to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits. You will need proof of disability back at the disability date you claim and since then. List all medical providers you have seen about your conditions even though they were not psychiatrists, any hospitalizations, arrests attributable to mental illness, and any other proof of disability you might have, including statements from family and friends you stayed with.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

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