Social Security Q&A: Do I Have to Wait a Year to Apply for Disability?

Social Security Q&A: Do I Have to Wait a Year to Apply for Disability?

Question: I heard that my disability must be expected to last at least one year to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Does this mean I have to wait until I’ve been disabled an entire year before applying for disability?

Answer: No. If you believe your disability will last a year or longer, apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. Processing your application can take an average of three to five months.

If your application is approved, Social Security will pay your first disability benefits for the sixth full month after the date your disability began. For example, if your state agency decides your disability began on Jan. 15, Social Security will pay your first disability benefit for the month of July.

The agency pays in the month following the month for which benefits apply, so you’ll receive your July benefit payment in August.

For more information about Social Security disability benefits, refer to the publication, “Disability Benefits,” at

Q: Is it illegal to laminate your Social Security card?

A: No, it is not illegal, but Social Security discourages it.

It’s best not to laminate your card. Laminated cards make it difficult — sometimes even impossible — to detect important security features, and an employer may refuse to accept them.

The Social Security Act requires the commissioner of Social Security to issue cards that cannot be counterfeited. Social Security incorporates many features that protect the card’s integrity. They include highly specialized paper and printing techniques, some of which are visible to the naked eye.

Keep your Social Security card in a safe place with your other important papers. Do not carry it with you. Learn more at

Q: I applied for my child’s Social Security card in the hospital but have not received it. How long does it take?

A: In most states it takes an average of three weeks to get the card, but in some states it can take longer.

If you have not received your child’s card in a timely manner, please visit your local Social Security office. Be sure to take proof of your child’s citizenship, age and identity as well as proof of your own identity.

And remember, Social Security cannot divulge your child’s Social Security number over the phone. Learn more at

This column was prepared by the Social Security Administration. For fast answers to specific Social Security questions, contact Social Security toll-free at 800-772-1213 or visit

Author: Tribune News Service

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