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Q. I was recently diagnosed with some serious health problems and had to stop working. How long do I need to be off work before applying for Social Security Disability?

A. You can apply now. To be approved for benefits, you will need to demonstrate that you are expected to be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity because of your impairments for a continuous period of at least 12 months, or that your impairments are expected to result in death. (There is a presumption for non-blind claimants that you are engaging in substantial gainful activity if you are earning more than $1550/month in 2024.) Social Security Disability payments do not start until after a five month waiting period following the onset date of disability. Disabled persons with limited assets and household income may though receive SSI benefits during the five month waiting period. Feel free to contact me for individualized advice regarding your own specific situation.

–Robert MacDonald (Jan 2018)(updated June 2024)