It is often difficult to determine if you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Many people who think they may qualify receive a rejection notice and have to appeal before they get benefits. Others may think they have the right to make a claim and will realize when they learn more about the rules that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will not approve their claims.
The timing of your application can be just as confusing as whether or not your health concerns are significant enough to help you get benefits. How long do you need to have a disabling medical condition before you can apply for SSDI benefits?
You can apply as soon as your condition is severe enough
The timing requirements for SSDI confuse many prospective applicants. People often conflate the rules for SSDI with the rules for other benefit programs, like short-term disability through workers’ compensation.
To get short-term disability benefits, applicants often have to wait a set number of days before filing a claim. That is not how SSDI works. You can apply as soon as your condition meets the criteria set by the SSA. However, you will need to show that medical professionals anticipate that your condition will last for at least 12 months or possibly the rest of your life.
It is the duration of the condition in the long term and not how long you have already had it that will have more of an influence on your eligibility.
Applying earlier means receiving more benefits
Rather than waiting months after your diagnosis to start applying, it may be a better approach to take action quickly after learning your diagnosis. Even if you will need to appeal to get benefits, you can receive backdated payments that begin from the date that you first apply or qualify. If you delay your application, presenting information about when your disability started won’t mean you get more benefits when the SSA eventually approves your claim.
Learning more about the rules that determine your rights as an SSDI applicant will make it easier for you to determine if you qualify to get benefits and take the right steps to connect with them if you do.