When Should You Apply for Disability Benefits?

When you apply for disability benefits, the timing of your application is important. Apply too soon and you risk a denial, followed by appeals and frustrating delays. Apply too late and you miss out on the benefits that you deserve.

Pekas Smith: Arizona Disability Attorneys explains when you should apply for disability benefits.

How Soon Should You Apply for Disability Benefits?

You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you meet the criteria, and you can submit a complete application. Generally, you shouldn’t wait to apply because the application process can be lengthy. However, you should apply only when you qualify, and when you can properly complete the application.

When to Apply for SSDI Benefits

  • Apply for SSDI benefits as soon as you become disabled and unable to work.
  • There is a minimum duration requirement for qualifying for disability – that your disability has lasted 12 months, is expected to last 12 months or will result in death. You must meet this requirement in your application. However, you should not wait 12 months after becoming disabled to file your application.
  • Even a complete application can take months to process. Waiting too long to file for SSDI benefits can result in delays in receiving your benefits.
  • Disability benefits are not paid retroactively. The earliest that you can receive benefits is the date that you file or the date you establish a protective filing date. (See 20 CFR § 416.325).
  • There is a five-month elimination period for benefits, starting the first full month after you become disabled. You can receive payment the sixth full month of disability, provided your disability is expected to last 12 months or more or result in death, and if you have filed your application.

Generally, you should file when you’re diagnosed with your disability or when the disability prevents you from working. To receive disability benefits, your impairment must prevent you from substantial, gainful activity with earnings below certain limits. When you meet this standard, and your disability is expected to last at least 12 months, you should apply.

If the disability is not expected to last one year or more or result in death, you should wait to file for benefits because your application won’t be successful. It’s not always in your best interests to apply as soon as possible. To protect your interests, you should submit a complete application as soon as you qualify.

Should you wait to apply for disability benefits, or apply right away?

Sometimes, a disability occurs suddenly. You’re in an accident, or you contract a critical illness, and you can’t work. Other times, disability develops gradually. Eventually, your impairments may prevent you from working. Because of these differences in how a disability appears and impacts working, the timeline for when to apply for disability benefits can vary.

You should apply for disability benefits when:

  • You have the work credits to qualify, which usually means 10 years of work history, or you qualify in another way.
  • You have a disability that lasts or is expected to last one year or more or result in death.
  • Because of your medical impairment, you are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity.
  • You can present the medical documentation to prove you qualify for benefits.

When your disability prevents you from working, and you meet the criteria of being disabled, you should apply for benefits. If you become disabled, and you qualify, you shouldn’t wait to apply.

There’s a myth about disability benefits that you must wait for six months or a year before applying for benefits. That isn’t true. The rule is that you can receive benefits the sixth full month after you become disabled.

Sometimes, you can gather the medical information that you need quickly. The Blue Book clarifies what medical documentation is needed to qualify based on certain conditions.

Sometimes, if you wait to apply, you can get better medical documentation that is more likely to make your application successful. However, you may supplement your application with additional medical records, if necessary.

How an Attorney Can Help When You Apply for Disability Benefits

When we serve as your disability attorneys, we gather the medical records that you need to apply for disability benefits. We understand the timelines and things that can cause delays. Usually, it’s in your best interests to apply as soon as you become disabled. We make sure that your application is complete to prevent delays.

Talk to a Disability Attorney

The best way to know when you should apply for disability benefits is to talk to an attorney about your case. At Pekas Smith: Arizona Disability Attorneys, we work to get you your benefits as soon as possible, analyzing your situation and determining the correct timeline.

For a free consultation, and to start your claim today, contact us online, or call us at 602.962.2818

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