Dugan & Associates, P.C.
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When should I apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

People frequently ask when is the time to apply for Social Security Disability. There are some simple considerations to keep in mind before considering toapply for Social Security Disability benefits.

Generally speaking, in order to have a chance of receiving SSD benefits one must have to demonstrate that based on their age, education, past work experience and severe impairments they are totally disabled for all substantial gainful activity for 12 months or longer.

Thus, one has to have one or more physical and/or mental impairments that will prevent them from working for at least 12 months. If you have not been off for that particular period of time but anticipate that may be the case then you may want to go ahead and apply. The application process and review takes time and can take months and in some cases even a year or longer before a final decision is made. However if you are confident you will be back to work within 12 months then you may want to wait before applying for benefits.

Another rule is that benefits cannot go back more than a year from the date of application for Social Security Disability benefits. Thus if you wait too long you may miss out on benefits to which you may be entitled. For example, if I am diagnosed with cancer as of 10 July 2015, stop working and think I am going to be able to go back to work by September, I should not apply. But suppose when September comes along I have complications and for the next year I am too preoccupied with treatment and fatigue to apply until March 2017. If I am awarded benefits I will only receive benefits going back to March 2016 even though I was disabled and unable to work since July 2015.

Once a person has satisfied the 12 month rule another rule to be aware of is that benefits cannot begin until 5 months after the date of the onset of disability. This is called the waiting period. For example if you have been diagnosed with cancer and have to stop working on January 10, 2013 and know that you will be off for at least 12 months then benefits would not begin until July 2013, a full five months after the onset date. Thus if you expect to be able to return to work within 12 months you may wait on applying for benefits.

Generally speaking to avoid waiting too long to apply for benefits and taking into account the 5 month waiting period one should try not to apply later than 17 months from the date of onset. Of course there may be other considerations to take into account, such as workers compensation issues, and every case has to be viewed on a case by case basis. Call Dugan & Associates today for a free consultation at 888-99-DUGAN.

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