How Long Does It Take to Get Social Security Disability Once Approved?

People applying for Social Security Disability Benefits may endure a long and frustrating process in which their records are examined and considered before any decision is announced. Whether you’re approved or denied, months of waiting cause many applicants to fall further into debt and experience excessive anxiety.

Social Security Disability law specialists, like The Clauson Law Firm, can maximize your odds of resolving your SSD claim as swiftly as possible. Without an experienced lawyer who specializes in Social Security law, the package you submit to the government could be incomplete, improperly organized, or not supported by enough medical evidence to prove your claim. Clauson Law is skilled at preventing those delay-causing errors.

Hopefully, when the wait is over, a letter arrives notifying you that your disability claim is approved. Now what?

When Will I Get My First Check?

If you just received your approval notice for Social Security Disability benefits. . . Congratulations!

So, when is the check coming? For most SSD benefits recipients, the first payment will be issued between 30 and 60 days after the approval notice arrives. Some delays are caused by a heavy caseload of the office where your payment is processed. If they are overloaded with a wave of new applications, the pace of processing slows down.

If you still have not received your first payment 90 days after you received your approval letter, then you should contact the Social Security Administration by calling 1-800-772-1213.

To reduce the likelihood of delayed payment, make sure you reported the correct information about your bank account. Small oversights when sending these details to the Social Security Administration can cause significant delays.

How Will I Get My Payment?

Since all new SSD payments are made electronically, you can choose from three payment methods:

  • Direct deposit allows the government to deposit the money directly into your bank checking or savings account. This is the easiest, most convenient method since you won’t need to do anything to complete the process. Once you sign up for Direct Deposit, simply check your account on the day the payment is due.
  • Direct Express debit card is a program that credits your payment to a prepaid debit card you can use for any purchase where charge or debit cards are accepted or at any ATM. Be warned, however, that debit cards can be lost or stolen. Although you can replace a card if you lose it, the inconvenience and inability to conduct transactions during the replacement process is a substantial disadvantage of these cards.
  • Electronic Transfer Account (ETA) is a third available method of payment designed for people who don’t have conventional savings or checking accounts. An Electronic Transfer Account serves as a bank or credit union account to receive and distribute federal payments. The account holder can have funds transferred to the account from other payers if they choose to. It does not permit check writing, but it provides access to funds either by ATM, in-person bank visits or by use of a debit card issued through a bank registered with the government program. The account won’t permit recurring bill payments.

For people who have little money to maintain a conventional bank account, this payment method fits their needs.

Exactly When Will My SSD Payment Arrive?

The day of the month on which your payment arrives depends on your birthday. If your birthday falls on the day 1 through 10 of the month, then your SSD payment will be deposited or credited on the 2nd Wednesday of each month. If you were born on days 11 through 20, your payment will arrive on the 3rd Wednesday of each month. And if you were born on days 20 through 31, your payment will be issued on the 4th Wednesday of each month.

The first payment you receive will be for the benefit amount due to you for the previous month. For example, your August benefit will be paid in September, and your September benefit will be paid in October and so forth.

When Will I Receive My Backpay?

Backpay is an important component of most SSD claims. The amount of backpay you receive depends on the date your state’s Disability Determination Service set as the Date of Disability Onset. Remember that the SSD program includes a five-month waiting period.

If your SSD claim took many months to finally be resolved in your favor, your backpay will include the amount of monthly benefit you were awarded multiplied by the number of months since your disability onset date, less five months.

Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration does not pay interest on your SSD backpay.

Your backpay should be issued within 60 days of the date of your approval notice. Some SSD recipients got their backpay much faster, sometimes only days after their approval. Again, the timing of the payment is often affected by the volume of cases at your processing office.

How Is My Backpay Calculated?

As described in the previous answer, the amount of your backpay depends on your disability onset date. When you submit your disability claim, you identify the date your disability began.  The Social Security Administration may or may not accept your proposed disability-onset-date. If something in your medical records or another piece of information in your application suggests your disability began later, then the government will pay your backpay only from the date they decide your disability began.

If you disagree with the date the government decided your disability began, call your lawyer immediately to discuss appealing the partially favorable decision.

Lawyer’s Fees

At Clauson Law, you pay no fee unless and until you receive your SSD benefits payment.

When your backpay payment is issued, you should see that your lawyer’s fee is deducted from the total amount. Of course, if you don’t receive an award of benefits on your claim, you don’t pay a fee. The reason for the deduction from your backpay is to permit every SSD claimant to hire a Social Security law specialist to represent them throughout the entire process without paying anything upfront. Few SSD applicants could afford to pay for a lawyer out-of-pocket before receiving their benefits.

Social Security Administration rules provide that no attorney can charge a fee of more than 25% of a recipient’s backpay and in no case more than a $6,000 cap.

The fee that applies to your case depends on whether your claim was approved following your initial filing or your case required the lawyer to argue an appeal or conduct a full hearing. On average, the typical fee for Social Security lawyers across the country is between $3,100 and $4,600.

If you notice that no attorney fee was deducted from your backpay payment, you should call your lawyer to alert them of the government’s clerical error. Those with birthdays on the 1st-10th of the month receive checks on the second Wednesday of the month.

What Takes 60 Days After a Judge Approves My SSD Claim to Get My Check?

Why does it take two months after an administrative law judge (ALJ) approves your claim before you receive your first payment? The reason is purely clerical.

Let’s say an ALJ tells you your claim is approved at the end of your hearing. The judge’s decision is not processed merely by pressing a few buttons or filling in a form. Instead, the decision needs to be stated particularly, recording each of the judge’s findings, the basis of the decision, the nature and extent of the disability, and other details.

The judge doesn’t write the entire decision personally. They forward the file to a staff of decision writers who take the information the judge provides and drafts the formal documents that will comprise the final notice of decision. Then, after the writers complete the drafting of the decision, the document gets sent back to the judge who heard the case to make sure it reflects what he decided.

Once the draft decision is approved by the ALJ, the paperwork needs to go back to the Social Security office for final approval and to be sent to you, the disabled claimant.

It may sound like this paperwork relay could be completed more quickly, but your case is one of many that each ALJ must consider and one of many the writers need to draft. The 60-day period between your approval and your first payment is the average length of time the process requires. Remember, you will receive backpay for the two months the approval process consumed.

At the Clauson Law Firm, we understand how important your SSD claim is to you and your family. We know you worked hard to earn your SSD benefits, and we promise to use our experience and skill to help you win the approval of your Social Security Disability Benefits.

About Author


Clauson Law has focused on representing the injured and disabled for over 10 years. We have handled thousands of cases. Each client is important to us and has a unique situation.