Belleville, IL (Vocus) December 12, 2008
Many people make the mistake of waiting too long to apply for Social Security disability benefits, according to Allsup which represents tens of thousands of people in the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) process each year.
"If you have become disabled and can no longer work for 12 months or longer, then you can and should apply for SSDI as soon as possible," said Ed Swierczek, senior claimant representative. "Many people make the mistake of thinking they need to wait until some specific time period has passed. This simply isn't true."
SSDI is a federally mandated insurance program overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provides monthly benefits to individuals who are under full retirement age (age 65 or older) and who can no longer work because of a disability (injury, illness or condition) that is expected to last for 12 months or is terminal. Individuals must have paid FICA taxes to be eligible. More details are provided in the "SSDI Overview" on Allsup.com.
Reasons For The Confusion
There are a number of reasons people might think they need to wait to apply for SSDI benefits, Mr. Swierczek said. For example, claimants might think they have to wait one year after their disability to apply in order to confirm the disability is long term.
"There are a number of ways to confirm that a disability is long term, including a doctor's diagnosis and medical evidence of a chronic condition or disease, and terminal illness," he said. "You don't need to be disabled and unable to work for a year before you apply."
Another reason people may stall is that they already have private long-term disability insurance coverage. "There are a number of benefits to applying for SSDI, even if you have private LTD coverage," Mr. Swierczek said. "One of those is that it freezes your earnings record for the years you are disabled, which can protect your Social Security retirement benefits." More information on the benefits of SSDI can be found in the section, "Why You Want SSDI," on Allsup.com.
Another reason for the confusion is the five-month waiting period for receiving SSDI cash benefits.
As Mr. Swierczek explains, "If the Social Security Administration approves SSDI benefits for you, there is an automatic five full months waiting period required before you can in fact receive those cash benefits. But this five-month waiting period is just for receiving the benefits. It does not determine when you can apply."
Another time element that can confuse SSDI applicants is the 12-month time limitation for receiving retroactive benefits. This is important and carries risks of lost income for someone who waits a long time to apply for disability benefits.
Here's an example to illustrate:
§ Ms. Smith became disabled and quit working in August 2005.
§ She did not apply for Social Security disability benefits until July 2007.
§ She was awarded benefits in April 2008.
§ The Social Security Administration determines that Ms. Smith's date of onset is Aug. 12, 2005. However, she did not apply until July 2007. The SSA will only award benefits going back 12 months from that date (July 2007 back to July 2006).
§ This means Ms. Smith's benefits will not go any farther back. So if she had applied when she first became disabled--she would have been entitled to several additional months of benefits.
Don't Wait to Get Started
One important reason not to wait is that the process of applying for SSDI can take several months, and in some cases up to two years or more, to receive an award from the SSA.
"There are a number of factors in the delays to getting SSDI benefits. But it's most important for people to realize that once they quit work because of a disability, their situations are not likely to get easier -- but rather more complex," Mr. Swierczek said. "Apply for SSDI sooner rather than later because it puts you on the path toward a better future."
For more information about the SSDI process, including "Seven Mistakes to Avoid When Seeking Social Security Disability Benefits," go to Allsup.com.
Allsup, Belleville, Ill., is a leading nationwide provider of financial and healthcare related services to people with disabilities. Founded in 1984, Allsup has helped more than 100,000 people receive their entitled Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare benefits. Allsup employs more than 550 professionals who deliver services directly to consumers and their families, or through their employers and long-term disability insurance carriers.
For more information, visit http://www.Allsup.com.
Allsup - http://www.Allsup.com
(800) 854-1418, ext. 5065
r.ray (at) allsupinc.com
Dan Allsup, ext. 5760
djallsup (at) allsupinc.com.