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Why And How To Lock In A Filing Date


It is advisable to start the process of filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) as soon as possible so you lock in what Social Security calls your "filing date." There is no down side to starting early.

The Filing Date is the date on which you call Social Security to set an appointment to file a SSDI claim or the date of the appointment, whichever is earlier.

The Filing Date is important for several reasons:

  • You can receive payments for each month you've been disabled since the date you became too disabled to work (the "onset date") -- but only for up to 12 months before the filing date.
  • There is a limited period of time after you stop work that you are still considered insured for SSDI purposes. After that time, your right to SSDI ends. You can learn your "date last insured", the date from which the time line starts running, when you call Social Security to set an appointment to apply for SSDI -- or any other time as well.
  • If you also qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), there are no payments for the time you were disabled before the filing date.

If your diagnosis was before the expiration of your insured period, but the disability doesn't start until afterward, it is likely that you are not eligible for SSDI. Look to see if there are enough facts to argue that you became disabled before the expiration of the insured period.

To obtain a Filing Date: There are two methods for obtaining a Filing Date:

1. Obtain a Filing Date when you call for the appointment to apply for SSDI. (Don't forget you'll also be asking for that appointment to take place in a friendly office if you found one.)

Tell the person making the appointment that you want to protect your filing date.

  • Ask for a letter confirming the date of the call as well as the appointment date and time.
  • When you receive the letter from SSDI, keep it with your SSDI file.
  • Protect yourself in case you don't get the letter by asking the person for his/her name. Note the name and date of the call, as well as the substance of what was said, in your SSDI file.

2. Write Social Security indicating your intent to claim benefits for yourself or for another person. Social Security will use the filing date of the written statement as the Filing Date. This is particularly useful if you're not ready to move forward to file the application right away. Send the letter in a manner that you get a receipt, such as through the Post Office via Registered Mail, Return Receipt Requested, or overnight with a signature required. Get proof that the package was delivered.

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