Must I be Disabled for a Year to Apply?

Q: I heard that my disability must be expected to last at least one year to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Does this mean I have to wait until I’ve been disabled an entire year before applying for disability?

A: No. If you believe your disability will last a year or longer, apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. Processing your application can take an average of three to six months. If your application is approved, you will be paid your first Social Security disability benefits for the sixth full month after the date your disability began. There is a six month waiting period after your date of onset. For example, if your state agency decides your disability began on January 15, we’ll pay your first disability benefit for the month of July. We pay in the month following the month for which benefits apply, so you’ll receive your July benefit payment in August.

Comment: The rule that you must be disabled for twelve consecutive months to be eligible is a confusion one. If you have a condition which is not expected to improve within 12 months and a doctor will verify this, you should apply as soon as possible.Te regulations say “disabled, or expect to be disabled” for twelve consecutive months.