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SSDI claim has been approved!


"I just received a letter stating that my SSDI claim has been approved!   What happens next?"


Congratulations!  You just cleared an enormous hurdle.  Now, the first question people usually ask is, "When will I start receiving checks?"  Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed wait time between receiving your award letter and receiving your first check.  The shortest wait time occurs if the individual is awarded SSDI following the initial application or a reconsideration hearing (more about that later) and the individual is not eligible for SSI (Supplementary Security Income awarded to individuals with a very low income.)  In several unofficial Social Security benefit resources, the average wait time is estimated to be approximately 90 days before the first monthly SSDI check is issued.

You will receive two, possibly three different checks.  The first check is your monthly SSDI award.  This amount is determined by the length of time you worked in the past and how much you contributed to SSA.  The second check is  Social Security Disability back pay.  The amount that you receive in back pay is determined by the date that you became disabled (for this purpose, "disability" means the point at which you became unable to work enough to be considered substantial gainful work activity, or SGA, the current 2009 SGA is $980/month.  Your inability to work to earn more than SGA needs to be as a direct result of your disability.  Back pay also depends on the date that you filed your disability application.  Remember, you will not collect SSDI or SSI for the 5-month mandatory waiting period.  If you stopped working (or earned less than SGA) at least seventeen months before filing, you could potentially receive 12 months of retroactive back pay from the date that you filed to the date that you became disabled.  SSI is based on financial need and no back pay is awarded prior to the date of application.

When you are awarded SSDI, your dependents become eligible for dependent benefits.  Dependents are defined as children under the age of 18, children age 18 and 19 who are full time students, and any children who are declared disabled before age 22 (benefits will continue until age 59.

While you are waiting for your checks to arrive, there are things that you can do to simplify your documentation of how your money is spent: 1. Make an appointment to meet with an accountant who has experience with SSI/SSDI programs. When your retroactive back pay arrives, if you have been awarded SSI, money in a general bank account could count as assets and affect SSI eligibility, so your accountant can help you find a way to set up a special account for disability-related expenses.  If you are working, make sure that your earnings are less than SGA.  Dependents eligible for benefits will need to show how their benefits are used (basic needs, school tuition, etc.)  Any money not spent or placed in a savings account must be documented annually.

For more information, refer to,,