Is There a Waiting Period for Social Security Disability Benefits?

If you’re approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you may not get your first payment right away.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) imposes a five-month waiting period on all approved applicants, with only two exceptions. Dependents of disabled workers and those who previously received SSDI benefits and need them reinstated are the only people who aren’t subject to the waiting period.

If you’re not in either group, how long will you have to wait before you start receiving your disability benefits? Here’s what you need to know.

Time to start getting SSDI

When the Waiting Period Starts

The waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits will begin on the date the SSA believes you became disabled. This is officially known as the established onset date (EOD) of your disability.

Your first monthly payment will arrive once you have been disabled for at least five months. As an example, if your EOD is May 15, 2020, your first check will be for the month of November. However, SSDI benefits are paid the month after they’re due, so you wouldn’t actually get paid until December 2020.

Why the five-month waiting period? The SSA aims to only provide SSDI to people with long-term disabilities, and the mandatory wait helps ensure that no one who is ineligible receives SSDI benefits.

How the Waiting Period Affects Back Payments

Depending upon when you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance, you may receive back pay. The SSA recognizes that processing disability applications takes time, and back payments are issued for the months between the date of application and the date of approval.

But, the five-month wait still applies. So, let’s say you apply for SSDI benefits in May 2020, and the established onset date of your disability is January 2020 – but your application isn’t approved until January 2021. Twelve months have passed, but your back payment will only cover seven of those months.

Why You Shouldn’t Wait to File an SSDI Application 

As we’ve already mentioned, almost everyone who applies for SSDI is subject to the SSA’s waiting period. Therefore, it’s in your best interests to file your application as soon as you become disabled. If you hold off until the end of the five-month period, it may take twice as long to begin receiving disability benefits.

What if you’ve already been putting off filing your SSDI application? You may be eligible for retroactive benefits, or money that you would have been paid if you had applied earlier. However, the farthest back retroactive benefits can reach is 17 months before the application date. So, if you became disabled months ago, you’ll need to take action soon.

For expert advice and assistance with every step of the SSDI process, turn to the professional team at Mountain West Disability.

Our experienced advocates work on a contingency basis, and since we don’t get paid unless you do, you can rely on us to do everything in our power to make sure your claim is approved. For more information on how Mountain West Disability can help you get the Social Security Disability Insurance benefits you need, contact our Murray, Utah, office today.