Timing: A critical factor in seeking Social Security Disability

One of the foundation blocks of basic computer programming is the conditional construct. The creator of the program establishes the parameters of the computer’s task by posing if-then statements. We use them in real life too. A simple example would be to say, if A equals B, and B equals C, then A equals C.

Conditional statements are also part and parcel of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance. If an applicant fails to take specific steps, then benefits are denied. Trying to trace all the possible if-then conditions can be dizzying. So, here’s one more for you. If this cycle baffles you, then you should consult with an attorney about how to get through the SSDI application maze.

One of the things that can catch many people in Indiana up short when it comes to claiming SSDI is that they find out the quirks of the system too late. In the simplest of terms, here is how it works.

SSDI is insurance. The premium on the insurance is the Social Security taxes paid by workers and employers. And, as with any insurance, if the premium goes unpaid, coverage fades away. When it disappears is called the date last insured (DLI). DLI might come weeks, months or years down the road.

What can happen is that a disabled worker leaves his or her job because of the condition, but doesn’t take immediate steps to start the application process. And if the application for benefits comes after the DLI expiration, application denial follows.

But, it is possible to extend SSDI coverage beyond your DLI by establishing a “protective filing date.” To give yourself more time, inform the Social Security Administration that you intend to file for disability benefits. This can be done in writing. Alternatively, if you start the online application process, then the date of that action can serve as the protective filing date.

The value of early notification is that an applicant can remain eligible for SSDI even if the paperwork isn’t filed until after DLI expiration.

If ever there was doubt about the value of early reporting of a disability, then this should serve to clear it up.

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