How Long Is it After a Disability Award to Get the First Check?

By Eric Feigenbaum
Disabled woman with paperwork.

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The Social Security Administration provides insurance that offers disability benefits. Establishing your disability with the federal agency to qualify for Security Supplemental Insurance or Social Security Disability Insurance requires an application process. There is usually a thorough process to establish your condition as valid before you can receive insurance payments.

Social Security Disability Date

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Your disability date is the most important factor to determining when you receive your first SSI or SSDI check. You receive your first check in the first month following your six-month waiting period. The waiting period begins on your disability date. Thus, if the SSA determines you became disabled anytime in the month of January, your first check would arrive in August.

Appeals

Close up of agreement process.

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Sometimes a claimant and the Social Security Administration don't agree and a case goes to an appeals process. An appeal can delay when you receive your first check. You probably won't receive anything until the appeal is resolved. However, the clock is still ticking, and while you're appeal is heard, the six-month waiting period continues to progress. If an administrative law judge or a court find in your favor, the judge will set date of disability as part of the finding. Your six months will then be measured by that date. If the six months has already come and gone, you will be owed backpay and should receive your first check within weeks of the judgment.

Application Date

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The date you choose to apply for disability affects your first check, as well. If you choose to wait more than six months after you could reasonably consider yourself disabled, then you may see your first check more than a year after the incident. That's why the Social Security Administration encourages people to file promptly, even if they aren't certain they qualify. There is no charge or penalty to visit your local Social Security office and talk to an SSI or SSDI consultant.

Private Disability

Private plan.

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Private disability plans have their own rules. Read your policy carefully about how and when your insurer establishes a disability and when first payment is due. However, there is still regulation of insurance companies. If you feel that your insurer is denying your claim unfairly or holding back proper payment, you can appeal to your state insurance commission. The insurer will have to pay per order or judgment if you win the backing of an insurance commission or a court. Additionally, if the SSA awards you disability payments, a private insurance company will have a difficult time justifying a denial or delay.

About the Author

Eric Feigenbaum started his career in print journalism, becoming editor-in-chief of "The Daily" of the University of Washington during college and afterward working at two major newspapers. He later did many print and Web projects including re-brandings for major companies and catalog production.

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