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When should I file my Social Security Disability application?

By   /  March 3, 2016  /  41 Comments

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.

disability-applicationFile 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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  • Can a person file for disability that began 20 years ago? I’ve been disabled for years, haven’t worked since, (therefore don’t have enough work credits) but never filed for disability back when I shouldve. Is it too late?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Terrie,

      You are not barred from applying for Social Security Disability and claiming disability began twenty years ago. To receive benefits, you would have to present evidence of disability going back as far as you were last insured and evidence that you have been continuously disabled ever since. If approved, benefits would be paid for twelve months before the date of your application. You can get the date you were last insured by setting up a My Social Security account on Social Security’s website (www.ssa.gov) and requesting your Social Security statement. It will show your work history and the date you were last insured for disability benefits.

      If you decide to do this, I suggest starting an application online, but don’t complete the form. Doing so will make November your application month. Then you can complete the application form after you have gathered all your medical records.

      Depending on your (and your spouse’s income and assets if you are married), you may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, which for U.S. citizens and some aliens do not require work credits. SSI has no retroactivity, so close to the end of the month, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 and request an appointment to apply. It will take some time to get the appointment, giving you more time to continue gathering medical proofs. Then you can complete both applications at the same time. Submit all the medical you have and if you are waiting for additional records.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Jackie

    I have gotten divorced and received approx. 30k settlement where can I put this money so I don’t lose my SSID??

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jackie,

      If you receive Social Security Disability (SSD aka SSDI) based on your work earnings, the divorce settlement does not affect your benefits and you do not have to report it.

      If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and hide the settlement, you would be committing fraud and could be prosecuted and barred from further SSI benefits. If you receive SSI, report the settlement providing a copy of the settlement paperwork. You can use the money to buy things that you need, to repay any SSI loan caused by receipt of the money, and to support yourself. You can request reinstatement of SSI when your countable assets are down to $2,000. For example, you could use the money for a down payment on a house, to buy or repair a car, to pay off debts, to pay for deferred dental or vision care, etc. Keep receipts for everything you spend so you can show it is spent and that you have not given it away.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Edie

    Hi Kay.

    My husband was awarded ssdi a little over a year ago. His claim was filed by an attorney. When we began the process in April 2014, he spoke to the lawyer’s rep over the phone who asked many questions including one regarding the date and reason my husband left his job. Although he was already ill, my husband told the rep that the primary reason he’d left his job was to attend classes beginning in March 2013. This was not what was noted on the claim form. The claim was approved based on medical records. Is this a simple administrative error or should we contact SSA and report it?

    Thanks,
    Edie

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Edie,

      If your husband was disabled on the date that Social Security established, there is nothing to report even if he was attending classes. The decision would be correct.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Ellen Kay

    I recently applied for disability for PTSD – anxiety, depression, lack of concentration, etc. I have not worked for 2 years. I was asked to work one day a week to help someone out, and am considering it as I need the money. However, I do not want to jeapordize my disability decision. I have been told that it’s best not to be working at all in order to get SSDI approval.

    I’m not even 100% sure I’d be able to handle one day a week, but do want to know if it may affect my disability decision. Thanks!

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Ellen Kay,

      If you earn less than $1,130 a month, working one day a week should not affect your claim, assuming you have good medical evidence to show that you cannot work more than that.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Ellen Kay

        Hi Kay,

        To clarity, do you mean $1130 a month before or after taxes are taken out?

        Thank you for your help!

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Ellen Kay,

          Before taxes or any other deductions.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  • Vickie

    Hi Kay
    My name is Vickie, back in 2010 , had an back injury at work but I did receive workmans comp and later in 2011 and 2012 my back injury continued and my job would not compensate my job duties so I just up and quit because I could not stand , sit bend for more than two hours at a time, I appmied for disabity for the second time in 2014 second time turned down, dtill not working up to this date, at the age of 54, can I apply for disability under my ex husbands claim, he has been disabled for the last 4 years at the of 57 all our children are grown can you please find me answers no income, no insurance don’t know were to turn no income or insurance since 2013. Thank you for your time abd support.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Vickie,

      You are not eligible for wife’s benefits on your husband’s account until you reach age sixty-two. If he dies before you, you can apply for disability benefits on his account. At age sixty, you can apply for widow’s benefits based on age. Currently, you can apply for disability again on your own earnings record, claiming a disability date after the date of your last denial if you were still insured on that date. If you apply, pursue the claim through all the appeals. Or, if your husband’s Social Security is below $1,100, you might qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Caroline

    Hi there,

    So glad I found this site. My 20-year old daughter is blind. I applied for SSI for her when she turned 18 but was ineligible because I was still receiving child support for her from my ex-husband. My daughter is about to graduate high school and will be continuing full-time at a school for the blind until her 22nd bday.

    Child support will end in June 2016. When should I apply for the SSI for her? I would like to get the ball rolling asap and I’d like to tell the SS office that the child support has ended because I’m assuming that by the time the SSI starts coming in, the child support will indeed be over.

    Also, is her SSI amount dependent on my income or my ex-husbands?

    Any advice would be appreciated. Thank so much.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Caroline,

      As an adult, your child’s financial eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is not affected by her parents’ income or assets. The child support is countable income. You can apply in June saying that is the last month she will have child support. In the application, request that the claim be processed as a Presumptive Blindness claim, which will start payments while a formal decision is being reached. Present some records to prove blindness to support the request.

      Note that when you or her father begins to receive Social Security, if your daughter is unmarried at that time, she can also file an application for Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB) on her parent’s earnings record based on having become disabled before age eighteen.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Caroline

        Thank you so much Kay. If I apply now, just to get the ball rolling, how would they know that I’ve received child support for May if I don’t tell them? I assume there would be no double dipping because I can’t imagine the SSI would be available until at least June. What do you think? Thanks for your input. I so appreciate what you do.

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Caroline,

          You will be asked to declare all income for the month in which you file the application, so you do need to tell them. As part of the application, you swear that you are telling the truth. Take the court order that shows that the support is ending.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  • Anonymous

    My ex had a stroke August 2, 2015 he’s blind in left eye having trouble forming words/with his right arm. At the end of December 2015 he was told he wouldn’t be able to work again ever. He’s 59 years old. I filed his Social Security Disability online January 8, 2016 put all of his medical stuff down. He’s been sent to a doctor for disability February 2016 that’s not his doctor in the city of where we live. Right now when I go online to check the status of the application it just says a decision has not been made as of yet. How long will it be to get a decision? Does child support come out of his social security benefit for our daughter as well? I’m very confused about the process as it’s my first time. Can you please tell me how someone gets approved after having a stroke and isn’t the same person since the stroke? Need advice trying to help him the best I can but not sure what to do anymore.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Anonymous,

      Depending on the severity of the stoke sometimes Social Security will wait to complete the medical review until it has been close to a year since the stroke. The reason is that most recovery will occur in the first year and to get Social Security Disability, an individual has to be disabled or expected to be disabled for at least twelve months. You could ask you former husband’s doctor to write a short statement that describes your ex’s functional limitations and includes what degree of additional recovery is expected and when.

      If your ex’s earnings record is sufficient, his minor children will be eligible for a Social Security benefit. If he is in arrears on court-ordered child support, his own benefit will be subject to garnishment for payment of the support.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Christen

    Hi Kay,

    In December of 2012 my 19 year old daughter became ill and by February 2013 when she began having seizures it was clear that something was seriously wrong. I called the Social Security Administration in January of 2014 to discuss available options. I was told that she could apply for SSI as well as SSDI (under adult disabled chid) because I am disabled and her disability began before she turned 22. Both of her applications were denied and the appeal process started. A hearing has been scheduled in May 2016 and she has retained an attorney. I can only pray that a favorable decision is reached. If the SSDI is approved, will her benefit amount be 50% of mine? Could she possibly receive both SSI and SSDI? Lastly, would they have the 5 month waiting period start from my first phone call in January of 2014 or could they determine her disability began before that (like in February 2013 when seizures began) and count the waiting period from say August 2013-December 2013? Sorry to be so complicated! Thanks so much!

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Christen,

      If approved for Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB), your child will be eligible for the lower of 50% of your benefit or the maximum dependent benefits payable on your earnings record. You can determine the maximum dependent benefits payable by subtracting your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA), which is your benefit before reduction for Medicare premiums or taxes, from your Family Maximum Benefit (FMB). You can get your PIA and FMB by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.

      I don’t think there is a five-month waiting period for Childhood Disability Benefits. If there is, it would be the five full-calendar months after onset of disability. If Social Security established her disability onset to be in August 2013, the waiting period would be September 2013 through January 2014.

      Your daughter can receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if her income is not too high. Countable income of $753 or more would make her ineligible. All but $20 of her Social Security will count toward that limit. Free housing and/or food will count as $245 income. SSI financial eligibility is calculated month to month; so even, if her ongoing income is too high, she might receive SSI for months in which her claim was pending and she had no income other than free housing and food. Similarly, if she is approved for Childhood Disability Benefits and the benefits are too high for SSI when added to the value of free food and housing, she could use her monthly income and back pay to start paying her share of shelter and food expenses and thus become eligible for SSI. (her share is the total costs divided by the number of people in the household. Or, she could move into her own housing and pay all the shelter and food costs and get an increase.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Georgia

    hi yes i was wanting to know if anyone can send my partenter some infor while he is in jail at Shieff Al Cannon Dentention Center in north charleston SC he was In prison for 10 years in FL and is unable to keep work scinec he was released in 2012

    Please and thank you

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Georgia,

      What kind of information is your partner seeking? Also, is it correct that he is in jail currently?

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Peggy

    Hi, I have been on sdi for 14 months due to an illness that has left me unable to work full time hours as before. I am still working at my same job with modified hours and make about $1800 biweekly. I am concerned that I have about 3 more months to run out of sdi benefits, will I qualify for social security if I work modifies hours? Thanks

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Peggy,

      I think you are saying that you have used six of your nine-month Trial Work Period and are asking whether your Social Security Disability will continue if you reduce your hours further and earn less than $1,090 gross per month. My response is based on that assumption. There is a thirty-six month period of Extended Disability following the end of the Trial Work Period. As long as you have not recovered medically from your disability, you can receive Social Security benefits for any month in the Extended Period that you do not perform Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), usually defined as the ability to earn $1,090 per month.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • by social security i meant disability.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Deana,

      I did understand that. Please see my reply to your prior post.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • I am a substitute teacher, technically. I make an attempt every day to go to work, and most of the time 9 out of 10, I cannot go into work due to severe anxiety.
    I have filed for social security. I am not sure i filled out my application properly. I cannot tell if I answered the am i still working question properly. I am technically still employed, and my employer does not know i have this problem. I do not want to be taken off the list. I keep trying every day to go into work.
    Social Security sent me for a psychological consultation for depression, ptsd, and panick attacks and anxiety.
    I have also written a letter better describing my anxiety.
    Do I give them my letter? Do I call to make sure they understand that I am still technically employed and its just that I keep missing days due to my condition? I need help with my application. I want to make sure it is right. When do I get a lawyer? Do I wait to be denied, or should I get a lawyer now to be sure my application is completely filled out properly. I don’t want to lose my chance of getting approved based on a question I may not have answered correctly. Also, I do not have money for a lawyer to help me with the application, will they take my case before denial? Assuming I will automatically be denied like most cases? TY PS I applied in December but still will attempt to work. I have only been successful for one 4 hour shift since applying.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Deana,

      I suggest submitting the letter about the anxiety and add to it that you are signed up to be a substitute teacher but turn down nine of the ten calls you get to sub because you are too anxious to take the job. Provide the total amount you have earned each month since the date you are claiming as you disability date (a copy of your pay stubs will take care of that) and say you have been able to work only four hours in the last 30 days.

      As far as getting an attorney, you might be able to get someone to take the case to help with the application. If you are denied, do be sure to get an attorney. You do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from the retroactive award at the time it sends your back pay to you. So, it’s all very easy and risk-free.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Carol

    My husand will be having surgery soon for an on the job injury. He will be receiving Workmans Comp – can he receive SSD to cover the % that Workmans Comp doesn’t cover of his salary?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Carol,

      If your husband will be disabled for twelve months, he can apply for Social Security Disability (SSD). His Social Security benefit will be limited in amount so that the workers comp and SSD together do not exceed his current average earnings as determined by the Social Security Administration.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • monique

    hi I have recently been disabled since Nov. 2013 due to a car accident me being the pedestrian I have been out of work 1yr now I was denied short term disability from the workers comp. board due to late filing because of complications from my employer im currently waiting on a hearing date as of still and been managing off public assistance is it possible for me to qualify for SSD being that ive been disabled a yr and have 3 kids and have more surgery coming up and am not expected to work any time soon if so how do I go about it

    • monique

      also will I qualify for back pay even though I never filed the claim

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Monique,

      I recommend that you file a Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application right away. You can start an SSDI application online, but you will have to file the SSI application in a Social Security office, so you might as well make an appointment to do both in the office by calling 1-800-772-1213. SSI will not have back pay. If you file your application for Social Security soon, you can get retroactive benefits going back to June 2014, after then end of the five-month unpaid waiting period. Be sure to indicate on your application that you have a pending workers comp claim. The articles under the “Apply for SSD” tab on this website provide tips on filing an application.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Tony

    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

      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

  • michelle

    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

      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

  • Marcia

    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

      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

  • 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

      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