How Long Does It Take to Get an SSDI Award Letter?

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  • How long does it take to get an SSDI award letter confirming your benefits? Find out about the difference between the SSA’s terms and how long it usually takes.
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How Long Does It Take to Get an SSDI Award Letter?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) states on its website that applicants may have to wait between three and five months to get a letter confirming your benefits after approval of your application. The application itself could take between one and three months to reach a decision. In all, you may have a total wait time of up to eight months from the time you apply, though most applicants see their first benefit checks come through about four months after first filing their applications.

What Is SSDI?

SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance. The SSA administers a disability insurance program that issues benefits to people whose physical or mental conditions make it difficult or impossible to work productively. Nearly 8.5 million Americans get a monthly benefit through SSDI, which forms one of the key supports for Americans with disabilities. Benefits are also paid out to over 1.5 million dependent children and 117,000 spouses of beneficiaries.

Who Qualifies for Disability Benefits?

SSDI benefits are open to any citizen or permanent legal resident with qualifying residency and work credits, under the age of 65, who has a diagnosed medical or mental health-related disability. As a rule, formerly able-bodied workers whose health forces them to stop work must be disabled for at least six months before disability benefits and Medicare become available to them.

How Do You Apply for SSDI?

You can apply for disability benefits just as you would apply for any other form of Social Security. Applications may be submitted through the Social Security office in your area, online at the SSA’s website or over the phone with an intake worker. In-person applications are possible, but it's recommended that applicants schedule an appointment in advance to ensure availability of a worker.

Once your application paperwork is in, you will have to provide evidence of your eligibility with identity and medical documents. These may be submitted along with your application. The documents will be reviewed and a decision made about your benefits in one to three months.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Letter?

Once the decision is made, you will get a letter announcing the approval. If your claim has been denied, you will be informed by mail. The denial letter contains instructions for how to file an appeal, which could take several months to come to a hearing. If your appeal is successful, the benefits letter should arrive in three to five months.

How Does a Letter Arrive?

The SSA sends decision letters through the mail. You can monitor the status of your application online through the SSA’s disability information website. Applicants must set up an account with the SSA online before information can be shared about a pending benefits case.