Is there a “Right” or best time to apply for SSDI?
If you are thinking of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance you may want to consider when is the ideal time to file a claim.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recommends applying for benefits as soon as you become disabled.
The SSA claims that the average application takes 3 to 5 months to process. However, many cases take twice that long to process. If an application has been denied and goes through appeals, the process will only take longer. Because of long wait times, it is important to apply as soon as you are unable to work. The Social Security Administration defines “working” as earning over the Substantial Gainful Activity limit. It is possible to qualify for disability if you earn under that limit ($1,260 in 2020). However, the purpose of disability is to provide income for those who can’t work, so it will be more difficult to prove you are unable to work if you are earning money in some capacity.
You must show that your disabling condition has lasted or is expected to last for a year.
Some people are confused by this requirement and take it to mean that they cannot apply for disability until they have been disabled for a year. You can and should apply for benefits before a year has passed. It can take a long time between when you first apply for benefits and when you finally see your first check. It is generally advised to file as soon as possible so you can avoid being without income.
Some attorneys will recommend waiting for six months before applying for benefits.
There are two perceived benefits to this. One is that if treatment continues, there will be more medical records documenting the disability. The disability may even get worse (and more obviously disabling) over time. However, you are able to send in updated medical records if your condition worsens regardless of when you apply. Also, health care facilities generally ship medical records off to storage after a few years, which makes them more difficult to find, increases the likelihood of them getting lost, and may lead to the records becoming outdated.
The second benefit of waiting is that if you are not working for six months, it builds a good case for the idea that you may be unable to work.
The downside of this is that it may be difficult to support yourself if you are neither working or collecting disability for six months. You will also lose the opportunity to collect some back pay if you wait more than a year to file for benefits. Generally waiting needlessly puts time between the applicant and their benefits.
So, when should you apply for disability benefits?
The short answer is as soon as you are disabled. If you think you may be disabled but believe the condition will last under a year, it may be a good idea to contact the Social Security Administration and set up a protective filing date. This means that if you do choose to file an application for benefits, the application will be count as being filed on your protective filing date for the purposes of back pay.
If you are considering applying for benefits, your claim has a much greater chance of success if you have professional representation. Disability law can be confusing, and the filling out of forms and filing of paperwork is, ironically, a lot of work. Let the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed help
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