Protective Filing Date

Social Security Attorneys Knowledgeably Advising Massachusetts Residents

As most applicants for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) will learn, the procedures for applying for and receiving benefits are very time-sensitive, with numerous important deadlines and time calculations to be taken into consideration. In order to maximize eligibility and minimize the possibility of missed deadlines, claimants are encouraged to file for SSDI as soon as possible. However, an immediate application for benefits may not always be possible, whether due to life circumstances, difficulty in obtaining the necessary evidence and documentation, or continued health issues. For this reason, the Social Security Administration offers the option of a protective filing date, which allows you to notify the SSA of your intent to file and preserve that date for deadline purposes. At Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., our Social Security lawyers can work with people throughout Massachusetts on protecting their rights to benefits.

The Advantages of a Protective Filing Date

Protective filing occurs when a potential disability applicant reaches out to the SSA with the intent to file an application for SSDI. The date of this “intent to file” is considered to be the date of the individual’s application, even if he or she does not complete the actual application at that time. Thus, the individual receives a “protective filing date.” This can be obtained when the disability applicant provides a written statement to the SSA of his or her intent to file, whether in person at an SSA office or through mailing the statement to the SSA office. After the SSA receives your notice of intent to file, the office will send you a confirmation letter that serves as proof of your protective filing date. You must keep this letter in order to retain your date, and you must file your application within six months of receiving it.

There are several reasons why a disability claimant can benefit from establishing a protective filing date. First, most applicants are entitled to up to 12 months of retroactive benefits if they file for benefits within 17 months of becoming disabled. Thus, for instance, if an office worker becomes disabled in January 2015 but is unable to immediately apply for benefits, as long as the worker applies for benefits by June 2016, he or she could still receive retroactive benefits. If the application is ultimately filed in February 2016, this may entitle the worker to benefits for the past period of disability from February 2015 to February 2016. If an individual is coming up on the 17-month deadline, he or she can file an intent to file in order to preserve a proactive filing date and ensure eligibility for retroactive benefits, even after the 17-month deadline has passed.

Protective filing dates are also important for individuals who have been out of work for a prolonged period of time after becoming disabled. After an individual stops working, he or she has only a certain period of time to apply for disability benefits before reaching an application deadline, known as the “date last insured.” After the date last insured passes, an individual is typically ineligible for SSDI. However, if an applicant establishes a protective filing date, he or she may use this date as the date of eligibility for benefits, even if an ultimate application is not filed until later. If the protective filing date is before the date last insured, an applicant will always be eligible for SSDI, even if an application is filed after the date last insured has passed.

Legal Guidance for Government Benefits Applicants in Massachusetts

Applying for a protective filing date through an “intent to file” notification can be an important way to protect your right to benefits in the event of delay or complications in the application process. At Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., our government benefits attorneys can assist Massachusetts residents in protecting their SSDI eligibility in a way that is appropriate for their situation. Based in Boston, we assist individuals in Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Plymouth, and Middlesex Counties, as well as the Merrimack River area. Contact us for more information at (800) 367-0871 or online.