When you’re filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, the date you file your claim is very important.
Sometimes, that date is the same day you actually submit your application for benefits. Other times, your true filing date can be much earlier thanks to what is called a “protective filing.”
What does that mean?
The date that you first reach out to SSA and express your intention or desire to file a claim for either type of benefit is called your protective filing date. Your protective filing date can be established by:
- Calling SSA’s customer service line (1-800-772-1213) to make an appointment to file a disability claim, whether you plan to do it over the phone or in a field office.
- Going to the local field office to make an appointment. That may happen if you go to the office intending to file your claim but are unable to do so because of staffing issues or the number of other people who are there seeking assistance at the same time.
- Beginning an online application for disability benefits. Even if you are unable to complete the application for some reason, saving what you started will trigger SSA to reach out to you and initiate a claim.
Once a protective filing date is established, SSA will notify you that you have 60 days to finish your application for that date to control your claim.
Why is this important?
Your protective filing date is the earliest date that your SSI claim can be paid. For SSDI claims, the protective filing date controls both how far back SSA can establish your disability, so it can affect both the start of your five-month waiting period and how much retroactive disability benefits you may receive.
When every dollar counts, it’s important to understand how the SSDI and SSI application process works. Legal guidance is available.