Receiving a fully favorable decision often follows months, if not years, of struggling to receive Social Security benefits and even after receiving a favorable decision, it may be months before you receive your first payment. There are a couple of reasons it takes some time to get your first check out to you. Before understanding the post-decision process, you must know what type of claim or claims that you had - most people have claims for Supplemental Security Income and/or Disability Insurance Benefits. Each of these are handled a bit differently as discussed below.
Supplemental Security Income - When the hearing office issues a fully favorable decision, they send a notice to your local Social Security office advising them of this fact. Once Social Security receives the notice, they will contact you within 30 days to speak with you about your finances. Because SSI is asset and resource based, SSA needs all of your financial information to calculate your monthly benefit. For example, you will likely need to tell SSA about any money you have received from friends or family, money you have in the bank, property you own, where you have been living, etc. SSA will advise you of the information they need, and the more quickly they receive that information, the more quickly they can calculate your benefit. Failure to cooperate with Social Security can result in them denying you your benefits. Once SSA has calculated your monthly benefit, they will send you paperwork that will say "Notice of Award" in the upper left corner. This paperwork will tell you how much to expect each month and the total amount of your backpay, including any money they have retained to pay your attorney (typically 25%). You can expect to receive the Notice of Award 30 to 60 days after your appointment with SSA. You should look over this carefully to make sure all of the information you gave SSA is represented correctly. You will begin receiving your check after receiving your Notice of Award. Your backpay will be paid in a different check and will be sent to you in $2000 installments every 6 months until you receive it all.
If you only have an SSI claim, this is the only calculation SSA needs to do. If, however, you also have a Title II, or Disability Insurance Benefits, claim, there is still some work left to be done. Of course, if you do not have an SSI claim, this step is skipped and SSA goes straight to calculation of your Disability Insurance Benefits.
Disability Insurance Benefits (also known as SSDI or Title II benefits) - These are the benefits you receive based on your earnings history. A rough estimate of your monthly amount can be found in the earnings statement that SSA sends you each year. These payments are processed at SSA's central payment center located in Baltimore, MD. If your have an SSI claim, your SSI benefit is calculated first in your local office as detailed above. Once your local office has finished, they will forward that information on to Baltimore, who will then calculate your monthly SSDI payment based on the amount of time you have worked and the money you have earned. You will receive a separate Notice of Award for your SSDI. Like the Notice of Award for SSI, this paperwork will tell you your monthly benefit and the total amount of your backpay. If you have only an SSDI claim, your payment can immediately be calculated in Baltimore without having to wait for your local office to do any paperwork so you may receive your information more quickly than someone who has both types of claims. It is common for you to begin receiving your monthly payments before you receive any backpay. Unlike SSI, however, SSDI backpay will be sent to you in one large payment.
In general, it may take 3 to 4 months following your fully favorable decision to begin receiving your benefits because of the calculation required as outline above. Please note, however, that these are only general guidelines and exceptions do occur. One of the most important things is to supply everything that SSA requests from you because failure to do so can add even more time to this wait. If you need to find the phone number or address to your local SSA office, click here to use SSA's office locator: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/FOLO/fo001.jsp.