Waiting for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits

One of the most confusing aspects of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is the five-month-long waiting period that must be endured before benefits can start being received.

When many people file for SSD benefits, they don’t understand why they have to wait so long to begin receiving payments. Then, once they do start getting paid, they wonder why they can’t receive benefits dating all the way back to the date on which they actually became disabled.

According to the law, SSDI beneficiaries must serve a five full calendar month waiting period after the onset date of their disability before they are entitled to monthly benefits. So, for example, if a person is deemed disabled by the Social Security Administration (SSA) on January 15th, their five-month waiting period becomes February, March, April, May and June. They are then entitled to monthly payments beginning in July.

But why is a five month waiting period required?

According to the Social Security Administration, SSDI benefits are designated for workers-and the SSA assumes that, because these people are working, they either have savings set aside or private disability insurance in place that will last the first few months of a disability period.

Whether or not that is or ever was a good assumption, it is, nevertheless, the law.

Social Security’s other disability program, Supplemental Security Income (or SSI) requires no waiting period, and the onset disability date for an SSI beneficiary is the first day of the month after the person applied for SSI benefits, regardless of when the disabling condition actually began.

If you’ve filed for and been denied SSDI or SSI benefits and you’d like to speak with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney, contact our firm. The Sawaya Law Firm has specialized attorneys on staff who are experienced in this area of the law and can help you get the benefits you need. Call today!


Michael established The Sawaya Law Firm in 1977 and built it into one of the largest personal injury law firms in Colorado, with more than 20 lawyers and 80 staff members serving clients from five offices located in Denver, Greeley and Colorado Springs. Throughout its history, the firm has stayed true to its 12 Core Values, which emphasize excellence in advocacy and a commitment to providing outstanding client service. Michael studied sociology and economics as an undergraduate student at The Colorado College, and he earned his law degree from the Texas Tech University School of Law. In addition to being involved in several legal and community organizations, Michael enjoys playing music and cooking, and he has written a book on spiritual matters.