If I am disabled when can I be eligible for benefits?

If you are disabled, unable to work for at least 12 continuous months, and you have worked and earned enough work credits to be insured for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance. Recently on our forum a user asked, "If I am disabled when do I qualify for benefits?"

Applying for SSDI benefits while working

Claimants may apply for benefits as soon as they are unable to work and perform substantial gainful activity (SGA). SGA work in 2014 is working and earning $1,070 for non-blind disabled applicants and $1,800 for blind applicants. The SSA will evaluate your current income and if you are earning this amount of money or if you are performing what they consider "substantial" work, they will deny your disability claim.

If you are currently earning too much money or working too many hours you do not need to apply for SSDI benefits because the SSA will automatically deny your case, regardless of the severity of your health condition.

Five month waiting period for SSDI

Assuming you are not working, your condition is severe, and you are insured for SSDI benefits you may apply immediately for disability benefits, but if you are approved for SSDI the benefits the benefits are subject to a five-month waiting period. This means the Social Security Administration (SSA) will withhold five months of an approved claimant's benefits before starting monthly payments.

So when will you receive SSDI benefits? The SSA will pay the SSDI benefits five months from your established onset date (EOD) of disability. The EOD date will be the date the SSA has determined you became disabled, according to information and evidence provided from your medical records. Consider, however, your EOD date will not be before you stopped working at an SGA level.

Is there a waiting period for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

If you do not qualify for SSDI benefits and you apply for SSI benefits your disability benefits are not subject to a five-month waiting period. In fact, if the SSA determines you are disabled, you will be eligible for your first SSI payment on the first of the month after you apply for disability. Due to the lengthy processing for SSI benefits, however, it is likely you will not receive your SSI payment for several months. If your SSI payments are delayed, however, you will receive back pay back to the date of the application.

Bottom Line

If you are approved for SSI benefits or SSDI benefits you may apply for benefits as soon as you are unable to work at a substantial and gainful level. It can take weeks, months or years to be approved. Some claimants are never approved or they have to fight through multiple disability denials before they receive a disability payment. If you have questions about your eligibility or whether or not you qualify for benefits you can talk to a lawyer for more information about your disability claim.

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