The surprising answer is – YOU DON’T NEED TO WAIT!!

When Can I Apply for SSDI Benefits?

You can file for social security disability benefits on the day that your doctor diagnoses you with a disability, or on the first day that you can no longer work because of your disability.

Many people mistakenly believe that they must be disabled for a certain period of time before they can even apply for social security disability benefits.

You must prove that your disability will last at least 12 months or is expected to result in death.

You do NOT need to wait to apply until after you have already been disabled for 12 months.

This is true for Houma social security disability claimants, Thibodaux SSDI claimants, and even those in Galliano applying for social security disability. In fact, it is true throughout Louisiana and the Nation.

If you have a serious illness, disability, or impairment that will last at least a year (or is likely to result in death – like cancer or Lou Gehrig’s disease), you can apply on the day the illness, disability, or impairment impacts your ability to work.

As my wife often tells our kids, just because you CAN do something, that doesn't mean that you SHOULD.

When Should I Apply for Social Security Benefits?

If you expect to be out of work for a year or longer or you have a terminal condition, you should not delay in filing a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

You should file your claim for SSDI benefits as soon as you become disabled.

The longer you wait to file, the longer you will have to wait to receive your disability benefits if you are disabled. 

Remember, a large number of disabled individuals, especially in Louisiana, are denied social security disability benefits when they first apply. 

Then they have to go through an appeal process, often including a hearing with a judge.  Some even have to go to court to have their case approved.  The process takes time.

The longer you wait to apply, the longer it takes for the process to get started. 

And, if you wait for over a year to apply, you risk losing some of the hard-earned benefits that you are entitled to.

I usually recommend that my Louisiana disability clients apply for social security disability as soon as they can no longer work because of their disabling condition to get the process started.

Is There a Time Limit to Apply for Social Security Disability?

There is no "time limit" to apply for SSDI benefits.

You can apply for benefits at any time after you become disabled.

However, as soon as you, in consultation with your doctor(s), determine that you are unable to work and that you will not be able to work for at least 12 months due to your medical condition, you should file for benefits.  

Any delay may result in you losing benefits that you are legally entitled to by waiting longer than necessary to apply.

If you are eligible to receive SSDI (or disability insurance), the Social Security Administration can only pay you retroactive benefits for the 12 months before submitting your application for benefits regardless of your disability onset date.

Therefore, if you wait for more than a year from the date you stop working to apply for benefits, you risk losing more benefits with each month that passes.

For example, one prior client became disabled in 2012 but did not file for disability benefits until 2019.  While we were successful in proving he was disabled in 2012 when he stopped working, SSA could only pay him benefits from 2018 forward.  He lost benefits he was entitled to from 2012 through 2018.  This cost him thousands of dollars in benefits.

Now, this does not mean, that if you have a minor illness or injury that will heal within one year, you need to rush out and apply.  Don’t do it.  Your claim will be denied, I cannot help you, and you will be taking up valuable resources needed by those truly disabled.

Should I File a Disability Claim?

The information provided here is not advocating that you file a Social Security claim if you are truly capable of working full time.

If you believe that you can do some sort of work on a full-time basis, your medical records are going to reflect that and you will ultimately be found not disabled, no matter how many appeals you file.

The Social Security disability application and appeals process is extremely lengthy and stressful.

Why face financial ruin waiting on Social Security to process an appeal if you can still work?

Even if you eventually win, the amount of disability benefits you receive will likely not replace all of the income you could make by working.

I realize that one of the hardest things for a formerly strong and independent working person to admit is that you need help.

But realize that you are not alone and you have nothing to be ashamed of.

If you are unable to work due to your disability, disability benefits are available to you under the law, and you have earned the right to pursue them and attain them.

You have worked your entire life to pay for these benefits in case you ever needed to use them. 

You can apply online for Social Security Disability benefits ( or at your local Social Security Office.

Will I Qualify for SSDI Benefits?

Wondering if you qualify for Social Security Disability?

With our years of experience, we can tell you through this quick, free, and easy SSDI claim evaluator whether or not we believe you have a case and if we can help you! 

Do You Qualify? Take the quiz now!

Do I Qualify for SSDI?


Loyd J. Bourgeois
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Accident, injury, and disability attorney serving Luling, Metairie, New Orleans, and South Louisiana