When Can I Start Applying for Social Security Disability?

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

This post is designed to help you understand the essential aspects of SSDI, including the crucial question; When is the right time to apply? Navigating through the SSDI application process can be challenging, but with the right information, you can approach it with confidence.

When Can I Start Applying for Social Security Disability?

Eligibility Criteria for SSDI

Before diving into the application timeline, it’s vital to understand who is eligible for SSDI. The program is intended for individuals who have a significant medical condition that prevents them from engaging in substantial gainful activity. Key eligibility criteria include:

  • Age: While there’s no minimum age, there are different criteria for applicants under and over the age of 50.
  • Work History: Applicants must have accumulated enough work credits, typically earned through employment.
  • Medical Conditions: The condition must be listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Blue Book or be of equivalent severity.

Understanding the Application Timeline

The right time to apply for SSDI is as soon as you become disabled and are unable to work. Delaying your application can result in lost benefits, as SSDI does not provide retroactive benefits prior to the date of application. However, there is a mandatory five-month waiting period after your disability begins before you can start receiving benefits.

Required Documentation

When applying for SSDI, you need to be prepared with all the necessary documentation to prove your eligibility. This includes:

  • Medical Records: Detailed records from doctors, therapists, and hospitals outlining your condition.
  • Employment History: Documentation of your work history and the impact your disability has on your ability to work.
  • Personal Identification: Social Security number, birth certificate, and other forms of ID.

The Social Security Disability Application Process

Applying for SSDI can be done either online or in person. The online application process is accessible and can be completed on the SSA’s official website. For those preferring in-person applications, it can be done at a local Social Security office. The process involves:

  1. Completing the application form with accurate personal and medical information.
  2. Submitting the required documentation, including medical and work history records.
  3. Attending an interview, if required, which may be conducted over the phone or in person.

It’s important to provide thorough and precise information to avoid delays in the processing of your application.

Common SSDI Mistakes to Avoid

Many applicants face delays or rejections due to common mistakes. These include:

  • Providing incomplete or inaccurate information.
  • Failing to submit all required documentation.
  • Not adhering to prescribed treatment plans which can affect the assessment of your disability.

Avoiding these mistakes can significantly improve the chances of your application being accepted.

After Submission: What to Expect

Once your application is submitted, it will undergo a review process which includes:

  1. Initial review to verify basic eligibility and completeness of the application.
  2. Detailed examination of your medical records and work history by disability examiners.
  3. Potential additional information requests, which you should respond to promptly.

The review process can take several months. If approved, you will receive a notice of the amount and date your benefits will start. If denied, you have the option to appeal the decision.

Dealing with Rejections

If your application is rejected, don’t be discouraged. Many applications are initially denied but can be successful upon appeal. The appeals process involves several stages, including:

  1. Reconsideration: Your case is reviewed by a different examiner.
  2. Hearing: If reconsideration is unsuccessful, you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge.
  3. Review by the Appeals Council: If the hearing doesn’t rule in your favor, you can ask for a Council review.
  4. Federal Court: The final option is to file a lawsuit in a federal district court.

Consider seeking legal advice to navigate the appeals process more effectively.

Additional Resources

For more information and assistance, you can explore the following resources:

  • The official Social Security Administration website for detailed guidelines.
  • Local SSDI advocacy groups for support and advice.
  • Legal professionals specializing in SSDI cases.

Ascend Disability also provides resources and expert help for individuals applying for SSDI.


Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance is a detailed process that requires careful preparation and adherence to specific criteria and timelines. Understanding the eligibility requirements, preparing the necessary documentation, and avoiding common mistakes can significantly improve your chances of a successful application.

If you’re considering applying for SSDI or need assistance with your application, don’t hesitate to contact Ascend Disability or give us a call at (855) 445-9787. Our team of experts is here to provide guidance and support throughout your journey. Share this post with anyone who might find it helpful, and remember, you’re not alone in this process.

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