When should I file my Social Security Disability application?
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.
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 1-800-772-1213 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?