When Should I Apply For Social Security Disability Benefits?

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Posted by Corey Luedeman

If you are no longer able to work due to a physical or mental disability, you may be wondering if you should apply for Social Security Disability benefits.  You may be wondering if now is the right time or if should you wait and see if you “get better.”

Apply for Disability Benefits As Soon As Possible – Or Lose Out on Benefits

We encourage anyone who has become disabled to apply for Social Security Disability benefits as soon as they can.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a backlog of applications to review, so it can take more than five months before a first decision is made on your application.

If you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you may be able to receive back pay.  Back pay for SSDI benefits is determined by two things:

1.) The date you became disabled (known as your onset date), AND

2.) The date you submitted your application to the SSA.

Your onset date is important because the SSA will begin disability benefits in the sixth month after you have become disabled.  The date you apply is important because the SSA will pay you back benefits for up to one year prior to your application date.  So, if you are disabled on January 1, 2015, but file for disability benefits on January 1, 2018, you would only receive back benefits starting from January 1, 2017.  You would potentially miss out on two years of benefits!

This is why you shouldn’t wait to apply for disability benefits.  It can affect the amount of back pay you receive.

How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits

To apply for Social Security Disability benefits, you will need to fill out the initial application.  You can call your local Social Security office to set up an appointment to complete the application.  If you are applying for SSDI benefits, you are also able to apply online.  Currently, you cannot apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits online.

The application will ask you for a lot of information, including specific information about your medical conditions and the treatment you’ve received.  You will need to list the medications you have taken, doctors you’ve seen, and tests you have had.  We recommend assembling as much of this information as you can before beginning to fill out the application.

In some situations you, a friend, or a loved one may need assistance in completing the application.  RSH Legal can review your situation and determine if they can assist with the initial filing of the application for disability benefits.

Once your application is submitted, the SSA will review the information you send.  From that information, they will determine whether or not you are disabled according to their rules.

Was Your Initial Disability Application Denied?

If your application is denied, we may be able to help you with the appeals process.  You can begin this process if you disagree with the SSA’s ruling.  Keep in mind that nearly 70% of initial disability applications are denied at first.  Being denied disability benefits does not mean you’re not entitled to receive benefits , or that you have a weak claim.

This is where hiring an experienced Social Security Disability attorney can benefit your claim.  An attorney can research the reasons why the SSA ruled against you.  They can also provide the SSA with up-to-date medical records and opinion statements from your doctors and other witnesses.

If you would like to learn more about the Social Security Disability claims process, download a free copy of the Law Guide to Iowa Social Security Disability Claims.

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