When Is the Right Time to File for Disability?

When you’ve been injured to the point you’re no longer able to work and are worried about the confusing government processes you need to go through to start collecting disability, it makes sense to think there may be some strategy for choosing the best time to file. In actuality, the best time to file is almost always as soon as you’re able. This is the case for just about any form of disability claim with the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).disabled patient speaking with a nurse

While it’s true that the timeline can get confusing, one thing you can do to stay on the ball is file as soon as you know you’re dealing with an injury that could keep you from working. By doing so, you reduce the risk of missing deadlines and having to deal with delayals. If you’re still unsure of whether or not to file immediately, getting in touch with a seasoned Florida disability lawyer can help address any questions and concerns you have.

The Best Time to Apply for Disability is as Soon as Possible

The SSA recommends that “you should apply as soon as you become disabled.” 

The sooner you get started with your claim, the sooner you’re able to start receiving your benefits. Further, all payments due to you through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) have a five-month waiting period, which means you may already be feeling the pressure of unpaid bills by the time you start receiving payments. Any delays in filing now will just push those benefits further down the road. If you’re eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, they are provided for the first full month after you file your claim.

You may think it makes sense to wait until your doctor officially confirms that you’ve got a disability, but in the end, a claim exam is usually required anyway. Ultimately, waiting to get the claims paperwork done will likely only ever keep your benefits from you longer, and has little chance of benefiting you at all.

How to apply

The SSA and the VA have convenient online forms for applying for benefits. You can also print out the relevant forms and mail them to your local SSA or VA office. Note that to qualify for VA disability benefits, you do not have to be unable to work, but your disability must have developed or resulted during the course of military service.

When to File VA Disability

The VA has a bit more going on when dealing with the type of claim you need to file based on a few different categories. The general rule is that the sooner you file, the better, but there are slightly more details when it comes to the timing.

Original Claim 

The first claim you file with the VA is known as the original claim. This claim can be filed up to 180 days before you leave service. A post-service claim can also be filed any time later if the disability appears after you are discharged. 

Increased Claim

If you’re already on VA disability and your condition worsens, you can file an increased claim to seek a change to your disability evaluation and more financial benefits. There’s no explicit earliest time you can apply for increased assistance. But, speaking in general, enough time will have had to pass in order for you to have a reasonable change in condition. You must support your claim with medical evidence, and you may need to schedule another claim exam.

New Claim

Filing a new claim ignores any evidence you’ve given the VA in the past and instead focuses on new evidence. This can be used for a few reasons like to request more financial support than you were initially granted in your original claim or to seek special monthly payments.

Secondary Claim 

If you develop a new disability related to any service-connected disabilities you’ve already claimed, you can file a secondary claim to request increased benefits or a re-evaluation of your disability rating.

Special Claim

Special claims are used to request financial support for special needs. Certain medical equipment, funding to change your living space to support your medical needs, and funding to support you if your disability keeps you from being able to work may be covered,

Supplemental Claim

In order to file a supplemental claim, your original claim must have been denied. You must also have chosen not to appeal at that time, and you must have new, relevant evidence to support your disability claim that the VA has not already seen. This is usually only possible after some time, due primarily to the fact that new medical evidence to support a claim that’s already been denied will likely only become available with the exacerbation of an injury.

What do I need to do before filing a claim?

In any case with the VA or SSA, gathering medical evidence and keeping good track of your injuries, illnesses, pains, and mental or psychological problems can help support your claim later on when trying to prove your disability. Both the VA and the SSA provide detailed information on how eligibility is determined, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the details they provide. When you’re ready to file, it can also help to quickly get in touch with a Florida disability attorney to go over any other questions you may have.

Get Help With Your Disability Claim Today

If you’re concerned about choosing the right time to file a disability claim, getting in touch with a seasoned Florida disability lawyer can help guide you through the process. In all likelihood, the first recommendation will be to go ahead and begin filing the claim, as that’s the first step in the process anyway. Your attorney can provide guidance on the needed documentation and with any confusing components of the application process.

Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd have been helping Florida’s injured residents deal with their disabilities for decades, and we want to help you, as well. We can provide legal guidance throughout every step of the process and help you fight against unjustified rulings should you need to appeal. Call us today at 866-460-1990 or contact us online through our easy-to-use form to schedule a free initial appointment.

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