Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can take a long time and the road to approval can be difficult. The government is notoriously slow and often denies initial SSDI applications, but that does not mean those applications are not valid or that they won’t eventually be approved.
It’s helpful to understand how payments for SSDI work so you understand what to expect.
A waiting period and payment schedules can delay your money
In real life, even expedited disability claims can take a month or two to process — and most claims take many months or even more than a year to be approved.
Even if your claim could somehow be approved immediately after you file, however, you would be subject to a five-month waiting period before your benefits could begin. For example:
- You become disabled on June 15.
- You apply for benefits on July 1.
- You get approved immediately.
- The first benefit payment you see is for December of the same year.
Furthermore, the government always pays for the previous month, not the upcoming month. For example, if you are owed benefits for December, you won’t get them until January, and January’s benefits will arrive in February.
In reality, most people are owed money by the time their SSDI claim is approved
Given that the vast majority of initial claims are denied, most people have exceeded their five-month waiting period before they win approval on appeal. That means that payments are often due as soon as a claim is approved — and you may even be entitled to a past-due benefit amount for the months that exceeded your mandatory SSDI waiting period.
It should be noted that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) does not have the same five-month waiting period, and many SSDI applicants may be entitled to SSI for that period of time.
When your SSDI claim has been denied, don’t take chances with your future
It’s crucial that you understand your rights. If you do get denied or you aren’t getting paid, you also need to know what steps to take to improve the odds of a successful appeal. Working with an experienced attorney on your SSDI claim can be an essential part of protecting your future.