Social Security FAQ: What’s a Protective Filing Date and How To Set Yours

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If you’re planning to file for Social Security benefits, you’ll need to be aware of your protective filing date before you apply. Your protective filing date is the date you contact the Social Security Administration or the date that you formally file the application. This can also be established by a previous written or verbal contact by phone, mail, in person or online, AARP noted.

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A protective filing date applies to any type of benefit, including Social Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). With SSI, the protective filing date determines when your benefits begin, AARP reported, while with SSDI, the protective filing date affects how much you receive in back pay.

Here’s the process for establishing a protective filing date, as reported by AARP:

Social Security Income Protective Filing Date Process

A protective filing date for SSI can be established in writing, in person or over the phone. Here are some possible steps that you can take:

  • Fill out the online application for disability benefits and then save the application. You’ll be provided with a reentry number and your local Social Security office will reach out to schedule an interview with you.
  • Call Social Security at 800-772-1213 to set up a telephone interview.
  • Call or visit your local Social Security office once it reopens.
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If you state that you intend to seek SSI, that date will be your protective filing date. You must also complete the SSI application within 60 days to lock in the protective date. Once approved, eligibility for benefits generally begins on the first day of the month.

Social Security Disability Insurance Protective Filing Fate Process

A signed written notice of your intent to apply for SSDI benefits must be provided. You can also have someone else contact Social Security on your behalf to disclose your intent to apply for SSDI.

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Your protective filing date can be established online through the same application process above, or by calling Social Security and having a representative document the date. You have six months to complete the application from your protective filing date. Once approved, you may be eligible for past-due benefits up to 12 months before the protective filing date.

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.
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