When is the Best Time to Apply for Social Security Benefits?

by Editorial Board on August 12, 2010 · 0 comments

in Questions & Answers,Basics of SSD,Filing Initial Application

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You should apply for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits when your health no longer allows you to work at the level of Substantial Gainful Activity.  Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) is defined as work that is both “substantial” and “gainful.”  “Substantial” means work that involves significant physical or mental activities and “gainful” means work done for pay or profit, whether or not you actually realize a profit.

Usually, if you are working and earning more than a certain amount, you are not going to be found disabled.  However, that is not always the case.  In some instances, you may be able to work and earn some pay, yet still be found disabled.

In 2010, the SGA amount is $1,000.  The amount you are allowed to earn without being disqualified for benefits is set out in the regulations and changes yearly so it’s important to inform your lawyer or representative that you’re working, how many hours you’re working, and how much income you’re making.

You do not have to file for benefits immediately after becoming unable to work.  However, it’s important not to wait too long to file your application since you may become ineligible for Social Security Disability Benefits once your Date Last Insured (DLI) expires.  Many people are surprised to learn that Social Security Disability Benefits have a shelf life.

Once you quit working, you are only insured for disability benefits for a certain amount of time.  That time is determined by your earnings record and how much you paid in taxes while you worked.  It’s important to be aware of the date of your DLI since its expiration may prevent you from being able to receive benefits.

Supplemental Security Income does not have an expiration date, but many people, due to excess assets, may not qualify for SSI.

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