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  • Christopher Le

To Wait or Not to Wait: The Dilemma of Filing for SSDI

When individuals find themselves unable to work due to a disability, the prospect of filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) becomes a crucial consideration. SSDI provides financial assistance and support to those who qualify, but the decision of when to file can be complex. One common question that arises is whether waiting 12 months before filing for SSDI is a prudent choice. In this blog, we will explore the factors to consider when making this decision, helping you navigate this challenging situation.


Understanding SSDI:

Before diving into the decision-making process, it is essential to understand the basics of SSDI. SSDI is a federal program designed to provide income to individuals who are unable to work due to a disability. To be eligible, you must meet specific criteria set by the Social Security Administration (SSA), including having a severe medical condition that prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA). Additionally, the disability must be expected to last for at least one year or result in death.


The Pros of Waiting:

  1. Meeting the Duration Requirement: One significant advantage of waiting for 12 months before filing for SSDI is that it ensures you meet the duration requirement imposed by the SSA. If you're unsure about the long-term prognosis of your disability, waiting can provide a clearer picture of your condition's severity and duration.

  2. Gathering Sufficient Medical Evidence: SSDI claims require extensive medical documentation to prove the severity and impact of your disability. By waiting, you have more time to accumulate comprehensive medical records, diagnostic test results, and opinions from medical professionals, strengthening your case and increasing the likelihood of approval.

  3. Increased Chances of Approval: Although waiting for 12 months isn't a strict requirement for filing, it can improve your chances of approval. The SSA often considers disabilities lasting or expected to last for at least one year as more substantial and deserving of support. Waiting ensures your application aligns with this requirement, potentially leading to a more favorable outcome.


The Cons of Waiting:

  1. Financial Strain: Waiting for 12 months before filing for SSDI means delaying the financial support that you may urgently need. Disabilities can cause significant financial strain, especially if you're unable to work and have limited alternative income sources. Weigh the potential hardship against the advantages of waiting carefully.

  2. Lost Benefits: SSDI benefits are not retroactive. This means that if you wait for a year before filing, you could potentially miss out on several months of back pay. Filing sooner rather than later ensures that you receive benefits from the date you become disabled, potentially covering some of the financial losses incurred during the waiting period.

  3. Lengthy Application Process: The process of applying for SSDI can be lengthy and complicated. Even after filing, it may take several months for a decision to be made on your case. By waiting 12 months before filing, you could potentially prolong the overall process and delay the receipt of benefits further.


Deciding whether to wait for 12 months before filing for SSDI is a highly personal choice that depends on various factors. While waiting can help ensure your disability meets the duration requirement, provide time for additional medical evidence, and potentially increase your chances of approval, it can also lead to financial strain and lost benefits. It's crucial to evaluate your individual circumstances, consult with a disability attorney, and consider seeking professional advice from experts who can guide you through this process. Ultimately, making an informed decision will help you navigate the complexities of SSDI and secure the support you need.

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