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Why is there a waiting period for Social Security disability benefits?

Waiting for Disability Benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has instituted a five month waiting period to ensure that benefits are not paid to people with short-term disabilities. The SSA will award disability benefits only for total disability and only after you have shown that you have been disabled for at least five complete calendar months. Benefits will be paid on the sixth full month after the onset of disability. You will not be entitled to any benefits during the waiting period.

Compassionate Allowances and Disability Benefits

If you have been diagnosed with a severe disability, such as early-onset ALS or advanced cancer, you may have heard of Compassionate Allowances. This is a situation in which the SSA sees you're clearly disabled, and expedites your claim. Under a Compassionate Allowance, you could expect to be approved in as little as 10 days.

Still, keep in mind that even if your condition is approved promptly, you will need to wait until the sixth month to receive benefits. In some cases, you will be granted Medicare immediately, but these are only for the most severe diseases. Nobody can receive payments immediately.

Getting Help When Applying for Social Security

Because you will need to wait a matter of months to receive benefits, time is of the essence. Any delay in applying will delay the financial resources you and your family desperately need. If you wish to expedite the process, you can speak with a Social Security disability attorney or advocate. An advocate or attorney can help you apply, and may be able to check in with the SSA on your behalf to determine how far along the process your claim is.