When Should You Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

Social Security disability benefits offer vital financial support to many disabled individuals who can no longer work. The wait for approval for these benefits can create high levels of anxiety and severe financial pressure. You may, however, be hesitating to apply for benefits for one reason or another. Here, we will address when you should apply for Social Security disability benefits and why you should not wait a moment longer to do so.

When Should You Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

The wheels of Social Security move slowly, to say the least. In fact, it can take between three to five months, and up to a year in some cases, for your application for benefits to be processed. This kind of extended wait time means that you should consider filing your application as soon as you have received your diagnosis for your disabling condition, illness, or injury.

Some people get confused by the mandatory wait time in place. You see, there is a mandatory wait time of five months from the point your condition develops and when you are eligible to receive social security disability benefits. This does not mean you have to wait five months to apply for benefits. What it means instead is that you can apply any time after you have been diagnosed, but, if your application is approved, you will not receive disability benefit payments until five months from the time of your diagnosis has passed.

It is also important to note that the majority of disability benefits applications are initially denied. While many have more success on appeal, the appeals process can take a long time. This is another reason why applying as soon as possible can be so important. You do not know how long the road ahead of you may be as the disability application process offers a number of appeals levels.

Are you worried that, even though you have had to stop working, your condition may not rise to the level of qualifying for Social Security disability benefits? Generally speaking, applying sooner rather than later is still a good idea. If your disabling condition should worsen between the time you apply and the time of your application appeal hearing, you will have the opportunity to submit additional, newer evidence as to how your condition has gotten worse since you applied for benefits.

Alternatively, you may want to consider a protective filing date. This is available to those who may be unable to file their application right away, for one reason or another. The protective filing date notifies the Social Security Administration that you will be filing a disability claim in the near future, such as in the weeks or months to come. When you do eventually file your application for Social Security disability benefits, your protective filing date becomes your application date for a number of important purposes.

Los Angeles Disability Attorney

At Disability Advocates, we want to help you get Social Security disability benefits as soon as possible. We know that these benefits can provide essential support to those who need them. Do not wait. Contact us today.

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts is the managing attorney for Disability Advocates Group. She opened Disability Advocates Group to assist individuals who became disabled and unable to work to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.  Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.