When filing a Social Security Disability (“SSD”) application, it is possible to be awarded up to twelve months of retroactive benefits. Since there is a full five month waiting period for SSD benefits, a claimant will not lose potential SSD benefits as long as the application is filed seventeen months after the onset of the disability.
For a variety of reasons many people do not file SSD applications immediately after their disability onset. If there is a possibility of filing an application and the 17 month mark is approaching, the safe thing to do is to seek a protective filing date.
A protective filing date is the date a claimant first contacts the Social Security about filing for SSD benefits. The protective filing date can be used to establish an earlier application date than the date when Social Security actually receives the signed application. A protective filing date can be established by calling the Social Security Administration’s toll free number - 800-772-1213, which eventually leads to a live operator who will take the application. The SSA usually follows up with a letter confirming an appointment. Even if the appointment is cancelled, the letters serves as proof for a protective filing date.
It is important to retain the SSA letter. I received a fully favorable on the record decision today that did not provide the protective filing date. I had reminded the claimant of the importance of the letter, but he misplaced the letter, resulting in a loss of a month’s benefits.