Why Is There A Waiting Period For Social Security Disability Benefits?


Posted by: Chris

It can take months--or in some cases, years--to get approved for Social Security disability benefits. Because of this long wait, many disabled individuals who are approved are eager to find out when their benefits will start. But, it’s important for them to understand that their benefits may not start right away because of the mandatory waiting period.

The Purpose of the Waiting Period For Disability Benefits

There is a five-month waiting period for disability benefits, which means benefits will not start until the sixth full month of disability. The five-month waiting period applies to people who are approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), not Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This waiting period was established to ensure disability benefits were only awarded to people with long-term disabilities. The Social Security Administration (SSA) makes people who are approved for benefits wait for five months so they can confirm that the disability still exists. If the condition lasts for less than six months, it is a short-term disability and the applicant does not qualify for benefits. 

How to Determine When Benefits Will Start

You will need to know several dates to determine when your benefits will begin. Start by figuring out the established onset date of your disability, which is typically the date your application was filed. If you were disabled prior to filing for benefits, it’s important to work with the SSA to change your established onset date so it reflects the actual date you became disabled. 

The waiting period begins on the established onset date. This means you should start to receive benefits at the beginning of the sixth month following your established onset date. 

The Waiting Period May Not Delay Benefits

It’s important to note that it often takes the SSA longer than five months to approve an application for disability benefits. For this reason, the mandatory five-month waiting period usually does not delay the start of your benefits. For example, let’s say your established onset date is January 1st and you are approved for benefits on July 1st. Since it took longer than five months for the SSA to approve your claim, the mandatory waiting period is over and your benefits will start right away. 

If you are disabled and unable to work, seek legal representation from Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at once. Our experienced attorneys work tirelessly to help disabled men and women obtain the benefits they need. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.