Answers to winning a disability case in NC| Social Security Disability Resource Center

How long should I be out of work to apply for Disability?

by Tim Moore. Free Case Evaluation here.

This is such a common misunderstanding. And I was reminded of how common it is because I spoke to someone recently who asked me this question…because he thought he had to be out of work for a full year before he could even file a disability claim.

How the disability system works with regard to working

So, just to set the record straight: that is not how the disability system works. The definition of disability that is used for the Social Security Disability and SSI programs states that your condition must be severe enough that it “will” cause you to be unable to work for at least year at the substantial gainful activity level.

So, let’s analyze what that means. It does not mean that you have to wait a year before you file your claim. When can you file? Quite literally, you can apply the day after you either stop work, or the day after your earnings drop below the substantial gainful activity, or SGA, level.

To find out what that is, go here: SGA.

Some people continue to work after they apply for disability and that’s fine as long as their earnings are below the allowed limit. If their earnings go above the limit, they run the risk of being denied for SGA. Most individuals who file for disability, though, have already stopped working completely, due to their condition. There are some people, though, that keep testing the waters simply because they have bills to pay, no matter what their medical condition is, which is a terrible situation to be in.