Filing for SSD Disability - When Should You put in a Claim?

If you are suffering from a severe physical or mental impairment that has significantly reduced your earnings or your ability to earn a living wage, you should probably file for disability immediately.

The Social Security Administration is currently deluged with disability applications, and thus it usually takes several months to receive a decision on a claim. Add to that the fact that the state disability determination services (DDS) agency, which makes decisions on all initial applications as well as reconsideration appeals for Social Security, rejects most claims, and you are probably looking at a considerable wait between the time you actually file for SSD and the time you will see any financial relief in the form of

Here are some things to consider if you find you must file for SSD or SSI.

1. Do not call the national toll-free number for information about filing your claim. The best source of information about
processing a disability application is the claims representative at your local Social Security office. There have been many instances reported in which individuals received inaccurate information from the toll-free number--you do not want any delay in processing your claim due to faulty instructions you have received (and complied with in good faith).

2. You have the option of filing your claim for disability online (for SSD not SSI), but again this probably is not the best option. Instead, call your local Social Security office and speak with a claims representative directly, so that you can ask any questions you may have and perhaps even get the name of someone who can be your "go-to" person should any questions arise in the future.

3. Remember that, should you be unable to travel to your local Social Security office due to transportation or health constraints, you can still have person-to-person contact with a claims representative over the phone. The rep will interview you, answer your questions, and then send you your paperwork by post to sign and return to the office.

4. Most importantly, keep in mind that if you are currently working full or part-time and earning the current substantial gainful activity (SGA) amount, you will not qualify for disability, regardless of the nature or severity of your impairment. The Social Security Administration (SSA) sets the SGA amount annually, and if you earn at least this much each month your claim will result in a technical denial.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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