It is worth knowing that social security benefits typically do not start immediately after submitting an application to the Social Security Administration (SSA).
There is a statutory ‘waiting period’ of five months after you develop a disability, even if you apply for a benefit immediately you stop working. This date is called the ‘alleged onset date’.
If your benefit application is approved longer than 5 months after your onset date, because you did not apply immediately, then the SSA may pay you back pay.
How Long Does the SSD Application Process Take?
It usually takes several months for the SSA to approve a SSDI benefit claim. If your application is denied for some reason, then it may take longer because you may have to appeal the decision.
Generally, the SSDI benefits timeline is shorter if you make available as much relevant, supporting documentation as you can and ensure you don’t leave gaps on the application form.
Even if the approval process is quite short, it won’t affect the waiting period. This is still five full months from the date that the SSA has accepted that your disability began.
Note that this is not the same as five months from the date you submitted your benefit application unless you applied for a benefit the same day as you believed that your disability developed.
After the five months has elapsed from your disability onset date, you will be eligible to receive the first payment if your application is approved.
Payments are always paid in arrears, so you will be paid for the sixth month at the end of that month.
SSD Waiting Period
For an example of how the SSD waiting period works, let’s say you developed your disability on 6th July, but you didn’t apply for the benefit until 20th October.
Let’s also say that your benefit application is finally approved on 12th February the following year. Your original onset date is accepted and this means that it is now over five months since that date.
You should have payments made immediately because the waiting period has already elapsed. You may also be eligible for back pay because the 5 month waiting period ended on 6th December. This typically will not be paid immediately.
What is Back Pay?
SSDI back pay is the amount that the SSA has decided to pay you if the period of time between the date of the onset of your disability and approval of your application is greater than 5 months.
Normally, when back pay is paid it will be paid in a lump sum two months after the date that your benefit application has been approved. The maximum period of back pay is 12 months.
Next Steps to Take
It is a challenging experience applying for a SSDI benefit. You must be able to convince the SSA that you are unable to work for at least 12 months because your disability was severe enough.
Medical evidence in the form of medical records, scans, tests and x-rays, must be submitted with your application. Your work history must also qualify you for a SSDI benefit.
The SSA may deny your application if you only partially complete the application form or fail to submit sufficient information to support your claim.
Although a disability attorney cannot reduce the waiting period, he or she can help you with your application and provide legal help if you have to appeal a rejected application or think that you are eligible for back pay.
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