Why are disability checks late?

How Disability Benefits are Paid

If you are unable to work due to a medical condition or disability, you can apply for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA) to help cover the costs of your medical and everyday living expenses. Once your disability has been approved and your amount of benefits has been determined, the SSA will give you your disability benefit payment once a month.

The SSA actually hasn’t mailed out disability checks since 2013. Instead, recipients now receive their benefits through a direct deposit system with their bank or on a debit card. This eliminates the worry that your check was “lost in the mail”. If your payment is still late, there could be a few reasons why, which you should consider before reporting the late payment.


Payment Schedule

You should know the exact date of the month to expect your disability benefit payment. It is either the second, third, or fourth Wednesday of the month, depending on your day of birth, as follows:

  • If you were born between the 1 through 11, you’ll receive your payment on the second Wednesday
  • If you were born between the 11-20, you’ll receive your payment on the third Wednesday
  • If you were born between the 21-31, you’ll receive your payment on the last Wednesday

Exceptions to this payment schedule include if you started receiving benefits before 1997, or if you receive both SSDI and SSI benefits combined, in which case you’d be paid on the third day of the month. Also, if you are supposed to receive your payment on a holiday, it will be paid to you on the day before the holiday.

Reasons for Late Payments

One possible reason for late disability benefit payments could be not keeping updated records. If you fail to update the SSA about a change in your bank account (especially if you receive direct deposit payments) or address, it may complicate your payment and delay the deposit.

The bank account that the SSA uses to handle your benefits may also change, which could delay your payment.

The SSA office that handles your disability benefit payments could potentially have a slow processing time, causing a delay in your payment schedule. This could be due to a high, unexpected increase in new benefit recipients, for example.

The SSA instructs disability benefit recipients to wait at least three business days if they are waiting on a late payment. After that, you should contact Social Security at your local SSA office or by calling the following telephone number: 1-800-772-1213. Note that if you suspect a check may have been lost or stolen, you should call the SSA immediately, not after three days.

Getting Help with Your Disability Benefits

If you experience problems with your disability benefits, such as the late payment issue discussed above, if you feel you were wrongly denied benefits through the SSA, or if you simply need help applying for disability benefits and starting the process, you should consider hiring a disability lawyer or advocate. A lawyer or advocate can help you navigate the complicated process of disability benefits.

Additional Resources