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Five-Month Waiting Period

woman waits for ssd benefits

By the time people apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, they are probably feeling some financial pressure. The wait time to start to receive those benefits, pending an approved claim, can be difficult. So, when it comes time to submit your claim, pay special attention to your onset date of disability.

You should allege the earliest possible onset date. Your onset date is the date your disability began. For example: say you stopped working two years ago when you became disabled, but you did not file then because you hoped your condition would improve, and you would be able to go back to work. Your onset date would be the date you became disabled, not the date you stopped working or the date you filed for benefits. For an SSD claim, you can get paid up to a year of benefits prior to the date of your application.

If you submit a claim, and you get approved for benefits, you might still need to wait a while. You will not receive benefits for the first five full months from the date that the Social Security Administration deems you became disabled. And SSA means five full months—if your onset date is the 4th of a month, that whole month does not count, so you will really be waiting almost six months to receive benefits.

Why does SSA mandate a five-month waiting period? Some say it is because SSA wants to discourage people who are not truly disabled from filing claims. Others say it’s just a mechanism for the Administration to save money. Regardless, the waiting period is not going anywhere, so file your claim sooner rather than later.