I am constantly being contacted by people who were led to believe that they needed to be disabled and out of work for a year before applying for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits. The regulations actually state that you must have a condition that has lasted or can be expected to last for at least 12 months in a row.
I always advise potential claimants to file as soon as possible. The initial decision in the local offices usually takes about a half year. The worst thing that can happen is that the application could be denied for failing to meet the 12 month duration requirement, but that rationale would eventually disappear on appeal at the 12 month mark. Another possibility is a suspension.
I represent a 53 year old custodian whose application was approved today. I filed his SSD application in March, stating that he became disabled in January. In April, the disability determination services notified me that they were postponing reviewing the claimant’s SSD application on the grounds that more time had to pass to evaluate whether he met the 12 month duration requirement.
The end result is that the claimant’s application was approved 5 months after it was filed, and 8 months after he stopped working. Cash flow was particularly troublesome for the claimant so the relatively quick approval was important.
It is also possible that the 12 month duration requirement will not present a problem. I represent a carpenter whose SSD application was also approved today. He stopped working January 31, 2011, and I filed his application on February 3, 2011. His application was initially denied for his refusal to attend a consultative examination, not for failing to meet the duration requirement. I promptly filed an on-the-record request for a fully favorable decision, which was approved today. The end result here being that the claimant's application was approved about 7 months after it was filed.