Social Security Myth #6: Disabled for a Year?

Every Tuesday, Social Security Attorney Taylor Potts will expose some of the more frequent myths surrounding Social Security Benefits. Be sure to “like” our Facebook page and stop back each week as Attorney Potts takes you through The Twilight Zone – Social Security Style. If you have questions about Social Security Disability or VA Disability benefits, contact Attorney Taylor Potts at (304) 845-9750.

Myth #6: Do You Have to Be Disabled for a Year Before You File?

You are about to enter a land beyond what many of us know.  A land that could almost be considered a different dimension.  A dimension of medical records, vocational classifications, administrative law judges, and functional limitations.  Strap yourself in and get ready as we enter the twilight zone of Social Security Disability benefits.


Social Security Disability can be a strange and confusing land, but allow me to be your guide as we (hopefully) shed some of this mystery and bring it back into the realm of reality.  In this series we will take some of the most common (12 to be exact) misunderstandings, or myths, about Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income and help explain why these myths are not necessarily true and why the myths became so pervasive.


Calendar and Clock

The next myth we will be looking at is how long you must wait before you can file for Social Security Disability benefits.  Many people believe you have to be disabled for a full year before you can apply for disability benefits.  However, this is simply not true.  You can apply for Social Security Disability benefits at any time and can be approved at any point, so long as you are determined disabled, regardless of when that disability took effect.  Many people get confused by this as Social Security requires you to, “have an impairment that has lasted or can be expected to last for at least 12 months.”  Thus, I can understand why individuals think they need to be disabled for a year before they can file for benefits.  Please note, if you have been disabled for one year or longer, you have already met this length requirement without any other consideration.  If you have been disabled for less than a year, you can still meet the length requirement by providing medical proof that your disabling condition will last 12 months or longer.

Furthermore, for disabling medical conditions that are expected to result in death, an individual could apply for and be approved for disability benefits without meeting the above length requirements.

If you are unsure if your disability meets the requirements of social security disability, please contact me, your local social security attorney, at (304) 845-9750 for a free consultation.


As your claim for Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income, or other disability benefit proceeds through the process, different requirements in effect take the place of the “lasted or can be expected to last” language.  For instance, once your claim reaches the administrative law judge level, the administrative law judge deciding your case will also need to consider your gainful activity levels.  The judge will be looking to see if your gainful activity levels have met the requirements for 12 months or longer.  Thus, the judge will review not only your medical condition, but also if you have worked in the last year or so and the amount of income you have earned.

Judge Ruling

Most disability claims that reach the administrative law judge level would likely have already been ongoing for at least 18 months.  Therefore, the judge would expect that your disability has already lasted for 12 months or longer.  Since this is the case, it adds another layer to the confusion.  In order to keep your initial alleged onset date, you would have to prove you have been disabled the entire period prior to the hearing in front of the administrative law judge.  This can be tricky. If you need help winning your benefits, contact our office today at (304) 845-9750 for a free consultation.


Having just uttered the phrase, “alleged onset date”, I would be doing a disservice to you, my reader, if I did not explain further.  For Social Security purposes, the alleged onset date is the day on which you are claiming that you became disabled and unable to work.  This is typically the day after you last worked, or the day your income fell below the required level.  Social Security could use this date as your disability date, or they could choose to change this date if they determine you to be disabled on a later date.  This could create a problem.  Failure to properly establish your alleged onset date could lead to your date being changed and you receiving less benefits.


Social Security Claim Form

This question is not easy to answer.  The “when” will depend on your unique situation and this varies from person to person.  However, you should not delay your application just to get closer to satisfying the one-year myth.  You are entitled to apply for disability benefits at any point and, in most cases, applying as soon as you become disabled will allow you to obtain disability benefits as quickly as possible.  This may not be true of all cases, as some cases may be better served to allow further medical treatment to occur, or to allow other concerns to be handled before filing.

GKT Can Help

If you are considering applying for Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income, Survivors Benefits, VA Benefits, or any other Disability Benefits, or have recently been denied, contact us at (304) 845-9750.  Gold, Khourey & Turak has the experience necessary to pursue your claim in the best way possible.  We understand the Social Security system and know when claims may need more development, when onset dates may need to be adjusted, and know what it takes to prove your disability.  Do not delay your application, and do not wait to contact our office at (304) 845-9750.  Our consultations are free and there is never a fee until we get you the benefits you deserve.