How long will it take to start getting disability benefits after you have received an award notice?

If you have received your SSI or Social Security disability award at the initial disability application or reconsideration appeal level, you will receive your benefits sooner than an individual who has been approved at the hearing level. Why is this? Initial disability claims and reconsideration appeals approvals are sent back immediately to local Social Security offices from Disability Determination Services (where disability cases are evaluated on the basis of medical evidence and vocational factors) to be adjudicated.

Once your claim is back in your local office, a social security claims representative, or CR, completes all the necessary actions to get your claim into disability pay status.

Generally, they are able to quickly adjudicate your disability claim and you will receive your Social Security Disability or SSI benefits the month you are entitled to receive disability benefits.

What do I mean by month of entitlement? The month of entitlement is the actual month that you are entitled to receive disability benefits. You may have a future month of entitlement, because of the mandatory five month waiting period for Social Security Disability claims for which you are not entitled to receive disability benefits (note: SSI claims are not subject to a waiting period).

If you do not have a future month of entitlement, your disability benefits may still be delayed if additional actions are needed to clear your disability claim for payment. If your disability claim requires a manual action to clear it for payment, it could take a little longer for you to receive disability benefits after you have been approved.

Administrative law judge hearing allowances take longer to process, because most administrative law judge hearing decisions are written by decision writers rather than the judge. This means the decision writer must write the decision then send it to the ALJ for their approval. Once the ALJ has signs off on the written hearing decision, it is sent to a Social Security payment Center for processing. All of this takes time; therefore some individuals will not receive payment for a couple of months after they are approved for disability benefits (see Tips for Getting Disability Approved).

According to the Social Security Administration, SSA is constantly striving to improve their disability approval processing times no matter at what level an individual's disability claim is approved. They realize that most disability applicants are experiencing financial hardships during the disability process and it is important for them to receive their disability benefits as soon as possible.

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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