Laura Holland: Hello. I’m Laura Holland. I’m a disability attorney with Gardberg & Kemmerly in Mobile, Alabama and I am going to talk a little bit today about applying early for your social security disability benefits. There are a couple of reasons that you would want to apply early. The main reason would be because getting a hearing can take up to two years from start to finish. That’s from the time that you file to the time that you get a decision from your hearing so the entire process, the hearing process can take up to two years. So, it’s very important to apply as soon as you feel that you are unable to continue working. There is rarely any kind of benefit to waiting.
Laura Holland: Some things that you can do before you apply, if you see that you are getting to the point where you’re not going to be able to work for much longer you might want to start documenting your symptoms, documenting how you’re feeling at work, what things you are having more trouble doing, what things you used to be able to do with ease that you’re no longer able to do. And especially if you’re getting any reprimands at work or getting any accommodations at work where they’re letting you take extra breaks or you’re getting in trouble for taking extra breaks. Those things you might want to document just because like I said it can be a two year long process. By the time you actually get to a hearing you may not remember some of those things that were going on that kept you from being able to continue working. So, it’s important to document those things.
Laura Holland: Another important thing, when you file you are asked for your alleged onset date, that’s what the disability determination service at social security calls it, they call it your alleged onset date. That’s usually either the date you stopped working or the date that you became disabled. And really it’s generally going to be the date that you became unable to work. For example, if you became unable to work on April 1st, 2015 and filed on April 2nd, 2015 you wait that two years, get your decision and the judge agrees that you became disabled on April 1st of 2015 your benefits will begin six months from April 1st of 2015. The six months is a waiting period that is for everyone. Under social security law you have to be considered disabled for six months before your benefits start so you are maximizing your benefits there. If you stopped working and then immediately filed you’re going to get your benefits. As long as the judge agrees you became unable to work on April 1st, 2015 your benefits will begin to be calculated from that time really.
Laura Holland: So in another example, if you became unable to work again on April 1st, 2015 but you wait to file because you think maybe you’ll be able to get back to work, maybe this is just a temporary thing and you don’t file until say April 2nd of 2018. You go through the time period, you wait for your hearing, you get your hearing, and then the judge again ultimately agrees that you became disabled April 1st of 2015 you don’t get, they don’t start calculating your benefits from April 1st of 2015 at that point. You can only go back a year prior to the date that you filed in that scenario as far as your payments go. So you’re only going to get paid back to April 2nd of 2017 so you’ve missed quite a bit of time that you could have been receiving benefits that you’re not, you’re not ever going to get that back because you did not file soon enough.
Laura Holland: If you file and then you recover and get better and can go back to work that is wonderful, that’s the best option for you because honestly you’re probably going to earn more by working than you will by getting disability. But if you do get to the point where you can’t work don’t wait to see if you get better, don’t wait to see if you can go back to work, go ahead and file. Because you can always dismiss that request for a hearing. You’re not penalized for doing that, there’s nothing that they’re going to hold against you if you ultimately do have to go back and file again maybe two years later. There is no drawback to filing.
Laura Holland: Another thing is don’t wait until your workman’s compensation is settled. Some people feel like they just get too overwhelmed, don’t want to deal with more than one thing at a time. We are here to take that off of you. So, if you feel overwhelmed with filing for social security and dealing with workman’s comp at the same time then get an attorney. We can make sure that you don’t miss deadlines, that your medical records are in. We’re here to help you in any way we can. But don’t feel like you can’t file for social security just because you’re already filing for workman’s compensation. A lot of times those things can go hand in hand. If you do have any questions, if you do want to file, or if you’ve already filed and have questions you can contact us at 251-343-1111 or you can go online gardberglaw.com and contact us there. But just remember if you feel that you can’t work go ahead and file for disability at that time. Thank you.