Waiting Period

The Social Security Disability waiting period is a period of five months in which those who are approved for Social Security Disability benefits are not paid. The period exists to ensure that during the early months of a qualifying disability, the Social Security Administration is not paying benefits to people who end up not having a long-term disability. In some cases, this means that an individual may recover from a physical or mental impairment(s) or be able to work and thus no longer needs benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration, disability benefits can be paid only to individuals who have been disabled continuously for a period of five full calendar months. If you apply and are approved for benefits, you will not actually be able to receive any payments until the sixth month after approval. Additionally, you are not entitled to benefits for any month in the waiting period.

If you qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you may be able to circumvent the five month waiting period depending on your individual case because Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is funded and managed under a different program than Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Although you may be able to get around the waiting period with SSI benefits, you may be subject to income limits and benefit ceilings which will have an impact on your payout and the longevity of your benefits.