Many people who consult with me about potential Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits are surprised to learn that they do not need to be disabled and out of work for a year before applying. While the regulations do say that you need a medical condition that has lasted for at least 12 months in a row to become eligible for SSD benefits, they also say that you can qualify for SSD benefits if you have a medical condition that can be expected to last for 12 months.
It frequently makes sense to file for SSD benefits before you have been unable to work for 12 months, especially since the initial decision by the State agency usually takes at least half a year. I represent a 52 year old bus driver whose application was approved today. The claimant had applied on March 12, 2012, claiming that he became disabled on September 19, 2011, less than 6 months after his medical condition disabled him.
I took the case over from another attorney in late June after the application was denied. Upon receiving access to the claimant’s efolder, I corrected erroneous vocational information in it, and requested medical reports, which I submitted last month. The application was approved today, 11 months after his condition became disabling, based upon an on-the-record request I filed for a fully favorable decision.
If the claimant had waited 12 months before filing his SSD application, that is September 2012, then he probably would not receive a decision until March 2013 at the earliest. Cash flow was extremely problematical for the claimant so the relatively quick approval was important.