After approval when do I get my first disability check?

If you have been injured, you are unable to work for at least 12 continuous months, and you are insured for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you can apply for benefits. Unfortunately, up to 70% of first-time applicants are denied benefits. Recently on our legal forum a user asked, "If I have been approved for benefits when will I receive my first Social Security Disability Insurance disability check?"

Waiting period for SSDI benefits and checks

There is a five month waiting period to receive SSDI benefits. The Social Security Administration instituted a five month waiting period for SSDI benefits with the assumption that this would allow enough time for most short-term conditions to dissipate and would deter claimants who could work from applying for benefits.

So how does the five-month waiting period for SSDI work? According to the SSA, "The waiting period for SSDI benefits consists of five consecutive calendar months beginning with the first full calendar month in which a covered individual satisfied the test of disability."

The waiting period is not based on the date the applicant filed their SSDI application but on the onset date of the condition. Consider, however, "the first month counted as part of the waiting period can be no more than 17 months before the month of application and thus, retroactive benefits are limited to 12 months from the date of application."

When will I get my first check?

If you have waited months or years for disability payments you are probably eager to get your first check. Unfortunately, Social Security disability claimants typically have to wait one to two months after approval before they will see their first Social Security. If you have not received your SSDI payment within 90 days, however, the SSA suggests contacting them for more information.

If you are entitled to back pay benefits this payment should be paid approximately a month after you begin receiving your monthly SSDI payments. If you hired a lawyer their expenses and payments should have been deducted from your SSDI back payment prior to dispersion.

For claims after 1997, the exact date on which Social Security checks were sent depends on your date of birth:

  • Claimants with a birthday on the 1st-10th of the month receive checks on the second Wednesday of the month.
  • Claimants with a birthday on the 11th through 20th of the month receive checks on the third Wednesday of the month.
  • Claimants with a birthday on the 21st through the 30th receive checks on the fourth Wednesday of the month.

Five month waiting period and back pay

How does the five month waiting period affect your disability back pay? When you apply and are approved for SSDI benefits the SSA will review your medical records and determine when your disability actually started. This date is called the onset date. Disability benefits will be based on this date. The twelve month clock starts as of your established onset date (EOD).

So for example, if you apply for benefits and your established onset date is five months before your claim is approved, you receive no back pay (5-5=0). If your EOD is seventeen months before your date of approval (17-5=12) you will receive 12 months of back pay. What if your EOD date is more than 17 months before your approval date? Even if it is 20 months prior to your approval date you will only receive 12 months of back pay because that is the maximum amount allowed.

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