Slepian Smith, PLLC

When is the best time to apply for disability benefits?

Many people hold misconceptions about when to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, and you may have heard some of them and be holding the misconceptions yourself.

For instance, there is a rumor that applicants should wait a certain length of time before applying, such as five months or one year after becoming disabled. But this is untrue and, unfortunately, causes unnecessary delays in securing benefits.

Like most rumors, the one about having to wait five months or one year before applying for benefits likely originated from actual truth. The five-month myth likely stems from the fact that Social Security Disability Insurance applicants cannot receive benefits for the first five months of their disability. However, you can apply for benefits well before this period has elapsed.

Similarly, the belief that you must wait a year before applying for benefits likely came from the fact that a disability must be expected to last a year (or result in death) to qualify for benefits. The key difference is that you do not actually have to be disabled for a year before applying for benefits; your disability just must be expected to last a year or more.

Other people put off applying for benefits for a long time because they are not sure if they will qualify. This is also not a good idea because of the unnecessary delays in securing benefits that it can cause. If you are unsure of whether you will qualify for benefits, it is wise to meet right away with a disability attorney who can review your condition and determine whether it likely does or does not meet the Social Security Administration's requirements.

In sum, the best time to apply for Social Security Disability benefits is as soon as you have developed a condition that is expected to prevent you from working. It is best to apply for benefits right away because the application process can take time and you want to make sure you have benefits available to you as soon as you need them.

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