Why is There a Five-Month Waiting Period for SSDI claims?

Submitted by CM on

If you have received a diagnosis that confirms you live with a disability, you should apply for the financial assistance offered by a program run by the Social Security Administration (SSA) called Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

However, even if the SSA approves your disability claim, you have to wait five months to receive disability benefits. If you qualify for the Compassionate Allowance program, the SSA waives the five-month waiting period by approving immediate financial assistance.

The Compassionate Allowance program provides immediate financial assistance for applicants that live with a life-threatening illness.

What is the Five-Month Waiting Period?

The date when you start to receive financial assistance from the SSDI program depends on three factors, with the five-month waiting period representing the most consistent factor. Not only does the five-month waiting period determine when you begin to receive disability benefits, but it also determines how much money you should receive in backpay by waiting for financial assistance.

To establish the five-month waiting period, the SSA sets an onset date for applicants, which is the date the SSA rules that an applicant for disability benefits became disabled. The onset date (EOD) is waived if you suffer from a life-threatening disability such as ALS. If you suffer from a qualifying life-threatening disease, you might qualify for the Compassionate Allowance program, which represents an SSA program that fast-tracks disability applicants for financial assistance.

Do You Get Paid For the 5 Month Waiting Period For SSDI?

When you apply for disability benefits from the SSA, there is a five month waiting period before any payments commence, even when your application has been approved. The five month waiting period is set from the date that the SSA considers you first became disabled.

The five month waiting period is independent from the actual time that the SSA takes to make an assessment of your disability benefits application, which could take several months or longer if you have to appeal a decision which rejects your application.

The five month waiting period may be canceled if you qualify for a compassionate allowance. A compassionate allowance may be granted if your disability is very severe or terminal. By granting a compassionate allowance not only is your application fast tracked but the time to start paying disability benefits is drastically reduced.

Although it can be frustrating to have to wait for such a long time before disability benefits payments start, you will still receive the payments you should have had in that five month period issued as back pay.

Back pay is calculated from the time your disability was first recognized and not from the date of your application. The actual payment you receive in back pay will be equal to the amount of benefits payments that you would have received based on the calculation made by the SSA over the five month waiting period.

Other Exceptions to the Waiting Period

Qualifying for the Compassionate Allowance program is just one way to avoid the five-month waiting period. If you are eligible to receive financial assistance through the SSA-managed Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) program, you should not have to wait five months to receive disability benefits. Another exception to the five-month waiting period rule is if you are reinstated to receive disability benefits.

For example, the SSA requires disability-eligible applicants to be out of work for 12 consecutive months. If you received disability benefits for six months, went back to work for six months, and then left the workforce again, you might qualify to have the five-month waiting period for financial assistance waived by the SSA.

If you are a dependent of a disabled worker, you do not have to wait five months to receive financial assistance.

How is SSDI Backpay Calculated?

Just because you have to wait five months to receive financial assistance does not mean you do not get paid for the five months. You have the right to receive back pay, which is calculated by factoring in the date when you applied for SSDI benefits.

Backpay also is calculated by referring to the date when you received a diagnosis for a disabling medical condition, as well as the date when the SSA approved you for Social Security disability benefits.

Find Help with Your Claim

The complex nature of the five-month waiting period rule can prevent you from receiving the financial assistance you deserve. Working with a Social Security attorney can help you clarify the five-month waiting period rule, as well as ensure you receive the maximum value of benefits owed to you by the SSA.

Schedule a free case evaluation today to determine your SSDI status when including the five-month waiting period rule.


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