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When will my Social Security Disability benefits become effective?

When your application for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits is approved, your entitlement to receive disability payments will begin as of the fifth full month that the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines that your disability began. You are not entitled to receive disability benefits during this five (5) month waiting period. For example, if the SSA determines that you became disabled on May 15, then you would be eligible to receive SSD payments five (5) months later in the month of October. Since Social Security payments are paid the following month in which they are due, you would not receive your first actual payment until November.

In most cases, a claimant’s initial applications for disability benefits are denied. Appeals and final positive rulings can take up to three (3) years from the date you first applied. Since the disability process can take so long, many claimants are entitled to receive retroactive or back SSD payments. These retroactive or back payments may be paid back to any onset date prior to the favorable decision. Regardless of the onset date when you are found to be disabled the maximum back pay possible is twelve (12) months before the date you applied. Since retroactive or back payments are still subject to the five (5) month waiting period, your actual back pay potential is seven (7) months behind the date of your initial application. SSD retroactive or back payments are paid in lump sum minus any attorney fee if you have a lawyer. Federal law does not allow for interest to be paid on back disability benefit payments.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that grants payments to disabled individuals who also have severe financial need. If you submit a SSI-only disability application, you are not entitled to any back pay prior to the date you actually filed your claim. Any SSI back pay you might receive is made in payments, not in a lump sum like SSD.