What Is the Mandatory SSD Five-Month Waiting Period?

Five-month waiting period for Social Security disability benefits

If you are diagnosed with a mental or physical disability that will affect you for duration of at least one year, prohibit you from working full time and prevent you from being able to support yourself, you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability (SSD) benefits.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) awards individuals SSD if they meet the criteria outlined in the Blue Book for disabilities as well as the SSA’s definition of “disability.”

How The Five-Month Waiting Period May Impact Your Own Disability Benefit Payments

Whether you get approved with your initial application or after going through an appeals process to overturn a denial, there is a mandatory five-month waiting period before you’ll start to receive your benefits.

This five-month waiting period begins on the established onset date (EOD) of your disability. To the SSA, that EOD is the date your disability began, and it defaults to your benefits application date. This mandatory five-month waiting period can affect you in one of two ways, which we’ll explain below.

Situation #1: How the Five-Month Waiting Period Affects You If You Apply Immediately After Your Diagnosis

If your EOD was January 1 and you file for Social Security disability benefits on February 1, then you will have to wait for the five months before your payments begin. That means you will receive your first Social Security disability payment in June.

Situation #2: If You Wait Six Months After Your Condition Begins to Apply for Benefits, the Five-Month Waiting Period Already Passed

But what happens if your EOD’s January 1 and you don’t apply for SSD benefits until August? At that point, you’re past the five-month waiting period already. So, you can start getting benefits right away once your claim’s approved.

Why the SSA Enforces a Five-Month Waiting Period for All Disability Applicants

Why does the SSA require a five-month waiting period before making disability benefit payments? It’s mostly to discourage people with short-term disabilities from filing SSD claims. Only conditions expected to last at least one year or result in your death qualify for SSD benefits. So, this five-month waiting period encourages anyone who cannot work longer than that to apply.

It’s also important to note that the SSA will provide you with back pay if you wait to file an application right away after becoming disabled. If you apply 17 months after your EOD, you’ll get a full year of back pay, which includes 12 months after the five-month waiting period.

You May Qualify for Legal Assistance

Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a tricky process because the SSA is strict on what they accept and there are many parts to consider during the application process. Because of this, it’s best to contact a Social Security attorney or advocate as they can assist with the intricacies and help you determine when you might be able to start receiving benefits if your claim is approved.

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