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Social Security Benefits Timing and Deadlines – What You Need to Know

If you've been injured or have otherwise become disabled and are unable to work or earn money for your home and family, your primary considerations are recovery, treatment and financial security.  Amidst these serious concerns, paying attention to nuanced deadlines and timing requirements in filing your Social Security Disability claim can often seem a low priority.  Failing to miss a critical date, however, can derail your ability to successfully receive benefits, sometimes permanently.

The SSDI application and approval process can be complicated and confusing without the stress and worry of trying to beat the application, appeal or various submission clocks.  An experienced disability lawyer can help walk you through the claim process and has the background knowledge and handle on the laws that will help manage all deadlines and submission requirements.  If you are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance, or are in the process of making a claim, below are some of the important dates you should keep in mind to help protect your rights and provide peace of mind.

Length of Time from Submission to Approval

One of the questions most often asked by those applying for Social Security Disability benefits is how long will it take for your claim to be approved and for you to start receiving payments.  Generally speaking, if your claim is approved and you submit timely and detailed documentation, you can expect payments to begin within 1-6 months from the date of your initial application.  If your initial submission for benefits is denied, the appeal and hearing processes can stretch out much longer, delaying receipt of funds for months or even years.

Alleged Onset Date

The next important date you should take note of for your SSDI claim isn't a deadline but the actual date that you became unable to work.  The alleged onset date for your disability is important because it's that date that the Social Security Administration will use to determine how much back pay benefits you are owed.

With an SSDI claim you're allowed up to 12 months of back pay.  It's important to remember, however, that you must wait at least five months after the date that you became unable to work before making a claim of benefits.  This means that if your alleged onset date was 12 months prior to your application date, you'd only be eligible for 7 months' worth of back pay.

Your alleged onset date must be at least 17 months (12 + 5) in order for you to receive the full amount of allowable back pay.  Upon review of your claim, the SSA can choose a different onset date based on their determination of when you became unable to work.

Timing of Submission of Medical or Other Evidence

Another important timing requirement you need to keep in mind for your Social Security benefits case is the five day advance window for submitting medical or other evidence that you wish to be considered by a judge at your benefits hearing.  If you've been assigned a judge to oversee your SSDI case, there will be a formal hearing to present evidence and testimony regarding your eligibility for benefits.  Don't think to show up on the day of your hearing and submit all your gathered files at that time, however.  If you want the evidence to be considered during your hearing, you'll need to get it into the judge's hands at a minimum of five days before.  Medical exams, employer testimony and more all needs to be planned and gathered well in advance to be sure your case is ready for hearing.

Deadlines for Appeals

Speaking of that hearing, if your initial application for Social Security Disability benefits is denied, you have a finite amount of time in which to file an appeal of the SSA's decision.  All appeals must be filed within 60 days of receipt of the initial notice of denial of claim.  While you can add on five days to that 60 day window to account for mail delivery, if you miss the deadline for your appeal you may be faced with an uphill battle for an extension or waiver of the time requirement to keep your claim active.  If you miss the 60 day appeal deadline, unless you can prove you had one or more of a very limited number of acceptable reasons, your SSDI claim will be dismissed, leaving you without benefits.

Timing Overview

For each of the various timing and deadline requirements, failing to comply strictly can potentially result in the loss of your claim and an inability to collect disability benefits.  If you've missed an important deadline, or want help ensuring your claim or case is filed properly and timely, call the law offices of Justin McMurray, P.C. for a free consultation of your case.  Having a person with sophisticated knowledge of the SSDI claims process in your corner can often make the difference in receiving a successful outcome for your disability law case.

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