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SSDI benefits when should file my application?

If you have become disabled and you are unable to perform work you may be considering applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) but when should you apply? Can you apply while you work to make sure you get SSDI benefits immediately after you stop working? Should you wait until you have been unemployed for a specific amount of time? What happens if you keep working while you apply for benefits? This blog will address each of these questions.

Applying for SSDI benefits BEFORE you quit working

Many claimants do not understand what it means to be disabled. The Social Security Administration will only consider you disabled if you have a severe condition which is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months and does not allow you to work (work is defined by the SSA as performing substantial gainful activity).

So what if you apply before you quit working? If you are working and making too much money the SSA will automatically determine you are NOT disabled (because you can work) and they will deny your claim. It will not matter how severe your health condition is, if you are working at SGA level, you are not disabled according to the SSA.

Should you wait until you have been unemployed for a while to apply for SSDI benefits?

There is a five month waiting period to qualify for SSDI benefits so many applicants assume they should wait at least this long to apply. Because the process is so long, however, it is advised that any claimant who has a condition which is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months should apply as soon as their work goes below SGA level.

Another consideration, which many applicants do not understand, is their DLI or date last insured. Because SSDI is an insurance program and not an entitlement program like SSA retirement, if you stop paying “premiums” which are your employment taxes, and you quit working for too long, there will be a date in the future called your DLI in which you will no longer be considered “insured” for SSDI benefits.

What if I start working after I win SSDI benefits?

This question is similar to the first question answered. If you apply and win SSDI benefits but you go back to work and make too much money or you work too many hours, you will trigger what is called a trial work period. The trial work period will allow you to work for a specific amount of time, but if your wages exceed a specific amount for too many months your SSDI benefit will be terminated.

What’s the bottom line?

If you are able to work you will not be considered disabled by the SSA. If you cannot work and your condition will last at least 12 continuous months you should apply for SSDI benefits as soon as possible. Expect to be denied the first time you apply, and talk to a disability lawyer if you have questions about the benefit’s application process.
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