Is there a waiting period for SSI or SSDI?
Upon being accepted for SSI disability benefits and waiting the required 5 months before actually receiving benefits, will I receive any benefits for the 5 month waiting period?
In actuality, there is no five month benefit waiting period for SSI disability. The waiting period only applies to the title II program, which is SSDI, Social Security Disability insurance.
And it is a misnomer to say a person actually "waits". Basically, SSA will determine when a person became disabled based on the medical records. Whenever that date is, SSA will determine how much back pay a person is owed but eliminate the first five months of benefits owed.
There are actually a couple of waiting periods that apply to Social Security Disability and not SSI. The first is the 5 month waiting that is analogous to an elimination period for a private insurance policy. No one really understands the logic of this waiting period to be frank, and there doesn't seem to be any clear rationale for it. If the reasoning is that claimants have other resources to draw upon, such as a short-term disability policy, the truth is that most, practically all, do not. Even the Social Security Administration does not provide this for its own employees.
The other waiting period that is unique to SSDI is the 2 year waiting period that applies to medicare. Again, this does not apply to SSI since SSI recipients do not get get medicare, but, instead, receive medicaid.
The wait for medicare is called a two year wait, but most claimants who get approved for SSDI do not actually have to wait 2 years after being approved for their medicare to kick in. This is because the two year wait starts from the time a person is actually eligible to get SSDI benefits. Usually, this is a date that is in the past and, thus, the two year wait is often "served", in whole or part, by the time a person is notified of an approval.
To reiterate, this occurs because of several reasons: 1) When claimants apply and are asked when their condition became disabling, this is typically many months or even years in the past; 2) Claims tend to drag on for months, if not years because the majority of claimants are denied and have to file a number of appeals before they get their benefits awarded. Also, of course, is the fact that SSDI does have retroactive benefits which is not the same as back pay but which can add to the total amount of back pay a person might end up receiving.
Essentially, most individuals will not have to wait 2 years for medicare if they get approved for SSDI disability.
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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