When Should You Apply for Disability?

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-five months. If your application is approved, we’ll pay your first Social Security disability benefits for the sixth full month after the date your disability began. 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.

For more information about Social Security disability benefits, refer to the publication on Disability Benefits, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.