Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

How long do you have To Be Out Of Work Before You Get Social Security Disability (SSD)?

There is no set time for an individual to be out of work prior to filing for Social Security disability. The Social Security definition of disability states an individual must have a medically determinable mental or medical impairment that has:

A) Prevented them from performing substantial gainful work activity for twelve months,


B) Is expected to prevent them from performing substantial gainful activity for twelve months (SGA, a.k.a. substantial gainful activity, is a monthly earnings amount that a person cannot exceed if they wish to be eligible for disability benefits. The current limit is here: SGA earnings limit),


C) May result in death.

The definition of disability can be confusing to people. Many people think this means they must wait for twelve months to file their disability claim. This is absolutely incorrect. If an individualís medical or mental impairment has caused them to stop working or reduce their work activity to an amount that is under what Social Security considers to be substantial gainful activity, they should file for Social Security disability.

Social Security considers an impairment disabling when it has caused work activity to be significantly reduced or stopped. There are many individuals out there with significant medical or mental conditions who are not eligible for Social Security disability due to their continuing work activity.

As long as an individual has the ability to work and earn over the SGA monthly earning limit with no employer subsidy (special considerations and help given so the employee can do their job) they will be denied for Social Security disability prior to a medical determination.

Social Security is a total disability program and it requires that an individual not be able to work any of their past work or even other work performed in the general economy that they might be qualified for.

In a nutshell, if you become unable to work due to a medical or mental condition, you should consider making an application for disability benefits immediately. The more time you wait to file for disability, the longer you have to wait for disability benefits to be awarded.

You can file a claim the day you stop working or when your work activity is reduced to below the SGA monthly earnings amount.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Questions and Answers about Social Security Disability and SSI Disability

1. Will I Qualify For SSI, How Do I Get Approved?

2. Social Security Disability, SSI Claim Decisions For Physical Problems and the Medical Exams that are used

3. Administrative Law Judge At A Disability Hearing

4. How Does A Social Security Disability Examiner Work to Determine a Personís State of Health?

5. Disability Lawyer Success Rate - Do Lawyers Improve The Chances of Winning?

6. What Happens When You File A Second SSA Disability Claim?

7. How Disabled Must You be to get Social Security Disability Approved?

8. Do You have A Chance Of Losing Disability Benefits If Your Case Gets Reviewed?

9. Can I get SSI for RA, Rheumatoid Arthritis?

10. Social Security Notice of Denial for a Disability Application or Appeal

11. Will the the SSA Disability Examiner Call or Contact Me at some point?

12. Will a Disability attorney try to Help You get Your Medical Records?

13. Should I List My Past Depression Medications on My Social Security Disability Application?

14. How Long Will My Case Be at the Social Security Hearing Office Before It gets Scheduled?

15. How Does Social Security Disability Make Its Decision?

16. Does Social Security Depend on Your Illness or the kind of Work that You Did?

17. Can You Avoid Being Denied on a Social Security Disability Claim?

18. Will Social Security Disability Pay for X-rays or an MRI?