After waiting months (even years) to get your Social Security disability hearing, and then months more to get the decision, you finally have it! Social Security has found you disabled. It is “Favorable” (either Fully Favorable or Partly Favorable).
Ok, now what? When do my Social Security benefits begin?
Here’s the thing: Social Security disability cases have two parts:
Part 1. Deciding if you are disabled? That was what the hearing was about.
Part 2. Deciding your eligibility for benefits, the benefit amount, and the amount of back benefits if any.
Part 1 is done. Part 2 is just starting…
Even after deciding that you are disabled, Social Security needs to figure out your monthly benefits and your back benefits.
If you were applying for both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), your benefits for each program are calculated separately by different Social Security offices. In other words, after Social Security decided that you are disabled, your file now flies off in two separate directions. Title 2 – Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are processed by a regional payment center, while your Title 16 – Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are processed by your local Social Security office.
Once the processing is complete, you will receive separate notices about your benefits for each program. In the upper left side of each notice it will either say “Retirement, Survivors & Disability Insurance” or “Supplemental Security Income.” That is how you know whether the letter is talking about your SSDI or SSI benefits.
Your SSDI benefits will probably be calculated first. Once your monthly benefits and back benefits are calculated you will receive a “Notice of Award” letter, summarizing your benefits. This is usually followed by an “Important Information” letter, which gives you more information, including when you can expect payment.
Your SSI benefits are handled by your local Social Security office. You have to be disabled and qualify financially to receive SSI. Your local Social Security office will contact you to go over your income and assets to see if you still qualify. Please note: Social Security will consider your SSDI benefits in determining your financial eligibility for SSI. So, your SSI benefits may be reduced or eliminated for any months that you also receive SSDI benefits.
Just as under the SSDI program, you will receive a “Notice of Award” letter followed by an “Important Information” letter describing your Supplemental Security Income benefits and when you can expect a check.
Processing your benefits should take approximately thirty to ninety days.
The good news is that this part of your Social Security case is mostly automatic. You may be asked to provide pay stubs, bank statements or other documents, but remember you are in the home stretch!