It is generally advisable to file as soon as you believe that: (1) you are totally disabled from any and all full-time work; and (2) your disability will last at least a year or more. Social Security is not a short-term disability program. It will probably take two years or more to get your case decided. The sooner you apply, the sooner you will get your case decided.
We also recommend that you file for State Disability Insurance (“SDI’) benefits. These benefits are usually payable for the first year of disability. You will need these benefits to live on while you are waiting for your Social Security case to be resolved.