After enduring the lengthy process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits, you might be tempted to think that the SSA would cut you a check on the spot for all of your back pay and your first month’s benefit. It would be nice if things worked that way, but the truth is, they don’t.
Unfortunately, Social Security disability claimants typically have to wait one to two months after approval before they will see their first Social Security Disability monthly payment. In most cases, it will take even longer for you to receive your back pay. Fortunately, any time that passes between approval and your first benefit payment should be reflected in your back pay.
If you haven’t started receiving your Social Security Disability benefits within 90 days of approval, contact the SSA. For faster results, have your Social Security Disability lawyer or disability advocate contact the SSA. As you’ve probably discovered by now, a Social Security disability lawyer can often navigate the (often confusing) red tape much faster than a claimant can. It’s in your Social Security lawyer’s best interests to take the time to ensure that you receive your benefits in a timely manner, as his or her fees are tied directly to your back pay.
When you receive your back pay check (typically a month or more after you begin receiving monthly benefits), it’s important to make sure that your lawyer’s fees were taken out of your benefit amount. Typically, the SSA handles this for you, but there have been instances when a clerical or administrative error occurred and a Social Security Disability lawyer was not paid directly out of a claimant’s back pay check. Your Social Security Disability lawyer’s fees will never exceed 25% of your back pay, and will not affect your ongoing monthly benefits in any way.
How Will You Receive Your Disability Check?
Until fairly recently, most Social Security disability recipients received a paper check in the mail. Prior to 1997 (and still, for those who retired prior to 1997), those checks were sent to arrive on the 3rd of each month. For those who have made claims since 1997, the exact date on which Social Security checks were sent depends on your date of birth.
- Those with birthdays on the 1st-10th of the month receive checks on the second Wednesday of the month.
- Those with birthdays on the 11th through 20th of the month receive checks on the third Wednesday of the month.
- Those with birthdays on the 21st through the 30th receive checks on the fourth Wednesday of the month.
These days, most Social Security Disability recipients don’t actually receive a paper check at all. The majority of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients receive their benefits “check” through direct deposit into their bank account. The government is in the process of requiring beneficiaries to receive their benefits electronically. For those who don’t want to receive their benefits through direct deposit, the SSA offers a debit card.
Either option is acceptable, but disability claimants should be aware of a couple of drawbacks to choosing a debit card over direct deposit. First, debit cards can be lost. While there are processes in place to help those who have lost Social Security disability debit cards, these are often more time consuming than what you would go through to replace an ATM, debit, or credit card through your own bank or credit union. Additionally, debit cards often involve more rigorous fees or limitations on your daily transactions.
When you are approved for Social Security Disability benefits, the SSA will ask you which payment option you prefer and it will be up to you.