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When do I apply for Social Security disability?

Q: When Do I Apply?

A: You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. The law requires that you be disabled for 12 consecutive months to be eligible, but if your medical provider supports your application, it is better to start now. Claims can always be withdrawn, but it is better to start the process early. Get legal help at the outset.


It can take a long time to process an initial application for disability benefits, four to six months. Over 75% of initial applications are denied nationally, which underscores the benefit of having experienced legal help before you even begin the process.

If you apply for Social Security, disability benefits will not begin until the sixth full month of disability, and only after a lengthy application process. Supplemental Security Income (SSI), SSI disability benefits are paid for the first full month after the date you filed your claim, or, if later, the date you become eligible for SSI.

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