Why is there a waiting period for disability?

Why is there a waiting period for disability?

This is a question that is asked over and over with no clear answer other than this is how the SSDI monthly disability benefit program was established in January of 1940. The waiting period begins with the month after the month of your established onset date and continues for five full months ending with disability benefits payable on the sixth month.

There is no waiting period for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) disability beneficiaries. This is because SSI is a need-based program and Social Security understands that SSI applicants have fewer resources or less income available for them to pay necessary bills. SSI beneficiaries become entitled to receive benefits the month they contact Social Security to file for disability provided they are medically approved for disability benefits.

This does not mean that SSDI applicants will not be able to receive any kind of disability benefits during the five-month waiting period. Many disability applicants file concurrent SSDI and SSI disability claims. If they are approved, they may receive SSI disability benefits for the five month SSDI waiting period. In fact, some will continue to receive benefits from both disability programs. In this case, their combined benefits cannot exceed the SSI monthly disability maximum payment amount plus $20.00.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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