How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

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 individual’s 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.

Questions and Answers

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 Person’s 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?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.