How Long Must You Be Disabled Before You Can Receive Benefits?

August 9, 2016
Dayes Law Firm

Although there are many requirements and criteria for determining if you are eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, there is no specific length of time you must be disabled before applying for benefits. In most cases, you should be able to qualify for benefits as soon as your condition prevents you from working.

Applicants should be unable to perform substantial gainful work, which the Social Security Administration (SSA) defines as making more than $1,130 per month.

Factors that Impact Benefits

There are a number of factors that can impact your application for benefits, including:

When you apply – It is a myth that you must be unemployed for six months before applying for or collecting disability benefits. Once you stop working and acknowledge that you cannot work due to your disability, you can apply for benefits. However, you must be anticipated to be unable to work for a minimum of 12 months or have a condition that will result in death.

Durational requirement – When determining if you are unable to work for at least one year, the SSA will take many things into consideration. If you experience an injury that results in permanent disability, the SSA will likely decide your case immediately. If you experience an event like a heart attack or stroke, and it is unclear if your condition will improve, the SSA may wait three months to see if your medical condition improves.

Working impacts back pay – If your condition allows you to work right up until you apply for benefits, it may appear to the SSA that your condition is not debilitating enough to qualify for benefits. In such situations you will have to prove that even though you were working, you were not successful in your efforts. Working for so long could also impact your onset date, or the date that the SSA says you were first unable to work. This can affect the amount of back pay you receive.

SSDI waiting period – There is a five-month waiting period established by the SSA that begins at your onset date. During this time, you will not receive benefits. That is why it is best to apply for benefits immediately upon realizing that you can no longer work.

Navigating disability benefits can be confusing. Contacting an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer can make the process smoother.

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