How Long Do I Need to be Disabled for Social Security?

Submitted by Deanna on

The moment that an individual is unable to do a substantial amount of work as a result of a health condition, he or she should apply for Social Security disability benefits. As a result of the high number of disability applicants, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has a backlog of cases, often resulting in substantial wait times. The sooner that an individual applies for financial assistance from the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, the quicker their application will begin to be processed.

What Is the Durational Requirement for Social Security Disability Benefits?

In order to be found disabled by the SSA, individuals applying for SSDI benefits must be unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA). They must be able to prove that they can not work by reason of a physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death, or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

If an applicant has recently become disabled, he or she must be able to provide significant medical evidence demonstrating that their condition is expected to last for at least one year. The claimant’s medical reports must reflect the diagnosis, the signs and symptoms of the disease, laboratory and clinical findings, treatments, and response to treatments.

how long do I have to be disabled to receive Social Security disability?

If an applicant is expected to make a recovery that could result in a return to work within 12 months, a decision on the basis of insufficient duration may be issued. For example, if a person is involved in a car accident that has resulted in a broken hip and arm, and the person has required surgery to fix the bone, the individual might be out of work for an extended length of time. However, most medical professionals would agree that while the accident caused significant health problems, the person is expected to make a recovery within a year. In such cases, the durational requirement would not be met.

If your condition is less predictable, such as a stroke or a heart attack, the SSA might wait up to three months to assess whether or not your situation has improved. As a general rule, if your condition has not improved within that time frame, the SSA will presume that it will last a year.

If I Have a Severe Condition Can I Earn Benefits Right Away?

All claimants are subject to a five-month waiting period from the established onset date (EOD) of the condition until they can receive disability benefits. In other words, if you were diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer that meets the criteria of the Blue Book on March 1st, you will not be paid for the first five months that you are disabled, but you will start being paid benefits during the sixth full month after you are disabled. Therefore, in the case of this example, you can expect to begin being paid in September.

Can I Continue Working Until I Apply for Benefits?

SSDI benefits are preserved for individuals who are considered unable to engage in SGA as a result of their condition. While your financial situation may make you want to push yourself to work as much as you are able, keep in mind that this will be used as evidence in evaluating your claim. By applying for SSDI benefits, you are asserting that you are unable to sustain working. Therefore, if you can work, even if it is extremely difficult for you do so, this could be used against you during the decision-making process.

Do My Chances of Being Approved for Benefits Go Up If I Wait a Year to Apply?

No, your chances for approval will not go up if you wait until you have been disabled for one year to apply. In fact, by waiting, you might be harming your chances of being approved for disability benefits.

The SSA utilizes the most recent medical evidence when evaluating your disability claim. As a general rule, the most pertinent medical information occurs at the onset of a disability. If you wait a year before applying, some of the most critical medical evidence may be outdated by the time your claim is reviewed.

Further, the SSDI application process can take years in some cases. By waiting a year to apply, you have essentially pushed back the time-frame for when you can receive your much-needed benefits.

Can a Social Security Attorney Help Me Wth the Process?

The intricacies of the SSDI application process are complex. From deadlines to wait times, understanding the various rules and laws surrounding Social Security disability benefits can be very confusing. An experienced attorney is well-versed in all of the issues surrounding the application process and can help you understand the process too.

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