So, you’ve finally done what many people haven’t: get your disability claim approved. Great job! But getting approved for disability is not yet the end of your journey. On the contrary, it is just the start of a long wait before you finally receive your first disability check.
What Happens After You Get Approved for Disability?
The approval process when filing for social security disability benefits can take a while. Most claims would require a disability hearing before it gets approved. But depending on the circumstances of your claim and your evidence, sometimes a hearing may not be necessary. After they’ve made a decision, the SSA will send you an approval notice informing you about it. They will then forward your claim for payment processing. Due to the volume of claims the SSA has to process, this can take months. But even if your disability check will take months to arrive, your disability benefits will start on the day you got disabled (onset date). The benefits you should have received from your onset date to when you actually received your first check will be computed as part of your back pay.
When Should You Receive Your Disability Check?
On average, it takes about 1 to 2 months to get your disability check after your social security disability claim is approved. In some cases, it can take longer. Back payments, however, usually arrive much later. SSI payments, on the other hand, begin right away. It’s typically sent on the first day of each month, except when it falls on a Sunday. In such instances, you’ll receive it on the last working day of the previous month. Under the law, a six months waiting period between your disability onset date and when you should get your first payment must also be observed. For example, if your disability started in June 2020, your payment will start in December of that same year. Even if your claim is approved on the same month that your disability started, you’ll still have to wait six months before you can get your first monthly payment. Taking from the previous example, if your disability claim is approved in June (when your disability started), the earliest you can expect your check will still be in December. An exemption to this rule would be if your condition falls under the Compassionate Allowances Program which we will discuss later. Most of the time, however, the approval process itself eats up most of the waiting period. Receiving other payments like workers’ compensation benefits or pensions based on work not covered by social security may delay your check even further. Instances like this require a claims specialist to manually process your claim, hence the delay. The award letter you get from the SSA will also tell you how much disability benefits you’re entitled to and when your disability payments will start. If there is doubt as to when your disability really started, the notice will also state your established onset date. If you’ve waited for more than 90 days already, you can contact the SSA to follow up on the status of your claim. Or you can ask your disability lawyer to do it for you. Since they already know the ins and outs of the system and know which people to talk to, the process will be much faster.
Why Disability Checks Are Delayed
Your disability payment schedule depends on your date of birth. People born from the 1st to the 11th of the month receive payments every second Wednesday of the month. If your birthday falls from the 12th until the 20th, you can expect payments every third Wednesday of the month. While those born from the 21st to the 31st will receive their disability checks every last Wednesday.
If your disability check didn’t arrive at your expected date, it could be because of:
- Outdated Records. If you fail to update the SSA of a change in address or banking details, it can affect your disability payments. Obviously, the SSA won’t be able to send you the payments if they don’t know where to send them.
- Backlog in SSA Processing. Due to the huge number of claims, it can take a lot longer for the SSA to process your first payment.
- Banking Error. If there are changes in the bank account which the SSA will use to send you payments, the agency will give you notice to confirm such before sending your check.
To avoid any hitches and ensure that you receive your benefits on time, make sure to update your bank records and other personal details with the SSA.
When Will You Receive Backpay?
Because SSDI applications take a long time to get approved, most successful claimants are entitled to disability back pay. In most cases, back pays (or the first installment thereof) are sent to your account 60 days after approval. It may also come with your first disability payment. But this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, you will receive your back pay much earlier (even before you receive an approval notice). In other cases, it takes longer than two months. This is because SSDI back pays are handled by payment processing centers instead of the SSA office where you applied.
How Will You Receive Your Disability Checks?
Since May 2011, the SSA requires that all disability claimants receive their payments electronically. This means that “disability checks” are not literally checks. Rather, you will receive them either through direct deposit to your bank account or the Direct Express card program. To apply for a Direct Express card account, just call the Treasury Electronic Payment Solution Contact Center at toll-free 1-800-333-1795. You may also do it at any SSA office nearest you.
SSA’s Compassionate Allowances
To reduce the waiting time for people with the most serious disabilities, the SSA came up with the Compassionate Allowances Program. Under this, the agency uses cutting-edge technology to easily identify those with very serious medical conditions. They also use data gathered from the public, opinions from medical experts, and recommendations from the Disability Determinations Service to come up with a quick decision. But in general, if your condition is on the compassionate allowances list, your waiting period will be reduced to mere weeks. Some of the conditions included in the list are:
- Acute Leukemia
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Alpers Disease
- Child Lymphoma
- Coffin-Lowry Syndrome
- Early-Onset Alzheimers
- Ewing Sarcoma
- Malignant Multiple Sclerosis
Other Benefits You Can Receive
If you qualify for disability, you’ll usually be eligible for other types of benefits such as:
After receiving disability benefits for 24 months, you will automatically be eligible for Medicare. This benefit will cover inpatient hospital stays, hospice care, medical supplies, doctors’ services, and outpatient care among others.
SSDI beneficiaries may also qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) commonly known as food stamps. Provided, however, that your income does not exceed the program’s threshold. The income requirement depends on the state you’re in. But in general, those receiving SSI will also qualify for food stamps.
(Related: DISABILITY CHECK AMOUNT: HOW MUCH CAN YOU EXPECT?)
VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.