That’s a tough question. There is a legally mandated waiting period of five months in most cases, starting with the date you became disabled, before you can receive any benefits. However, this five-month period may not directly come into play in your case because the time it takes to process your application may exceed five months.
The overall process takes time
Once you file your initial application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, the application goes to a Social Security Administration (SSA) field office and to an Illinois Disability Determination Services (DDS) for processing.
The field office generally determines the non-medical eligibility questions, such as whether you have worked enough to qualify for SSDI. The DDS reviews the evidence you sent in about your disability and determines if you meet the SSA’s definition of a person with a disability.
The initial processing period for an SSDI application is about 168 days (5-1/2 months).
Your application could be approved during initial processing, but about 70% are denied. It’s important to know that you may be denied even though you are actually eligible for the benefits. Many Social Security Disability claims must be appealed before they are ultimately granted.
If your application is denied, the first thing we will do is ask for a reconsideration by DDS or by an administrative law judge at the SSA. This reconsideration could result in your application being approved, but it may involve a hearing. The average wait time for a hearing before an administrative law judge in Illinois is currently 410 days – about 13-1/2 months.
If your application were denied after the hearing before an administrative law judge, we could still appeal to the courts, but that would take additional time.
Once your claim is approved, you will typically be paid back benefits
Once you have been approved for benefits, the SSA will pay you as of 5 months after the onset of your disability. This date will generally be before your initial application date. The onset date is decided as part of the approval process.
So, if it the entire process were to take two years, but you were approved, you would receive back benefits beginning the sixth month after your onset date. This is generally paid in a lump sum. The total amount you receive in back benefits depends in part on where in the process you received approval.
Figuring out the amount of your back benefits and the date on which you should expect ongoing benefits to begin depends on your specific situation. Your Social Security Disability lawyer can help you understand what to expect.