Generally speaking, it takes a while to get a disability benefit claim approved. You have to be unable to work for at least a full year prior to getting approved for benefits in most cases. So what happens when it finally gets approved?
The first thing that happens depends entirely on whether or not it took a judicial hearing to get approved and whether or not an attorney was involved. It also depends on whether or not you have worked in the past, are only eligible for Social Security Supplemental income or eligible for a combination of both SSD and SSI.
If you did not have a hearing and you have been disabled for a year, once it is approved, the Social Security Administration will call you up and schedule an appointment to come in for an interview. If you are unable to come into the office personally, they will arrange a telephone interview.
This interview is to update your information with regard to how many are living in your household, what expenses you pay and if a child under 18 is dependent on you for support. It is also to set up direct deposit information or decide if you want a check mailed to you. Often they will go over any back pay amounts that are due to you and if eligible for Medicare, set up that information as well. There are a few forms to fill out and sign, so if your interview is over the phone, they will mail these to you and you send them back.
Once this information is received, they will usually verbally tell you when you will begin to start receiving benefits. They also mail this to you in writing. In most cases within 30 days, you receive your regular check. If you have waited a long time to get approved, they will owe you back payments and this will get sent to you after you begin to receive your regular monthly benefit. Back payments, in the past used to be all paid to you at once.
They have implemented new rules, so that back payments are divided and split into three increments. The first two increments being the larger of the three payments with the remaining balance for the last. With the back payments, the first two are spaced six months apart and the final comes between three and six months after that.
If you can prove to the Social Security Administration that your financial need is severe or medically neccessary, they will sometimes, give you your back payment all at once or divide it into two payments. This doesn't happen very often, though and you must provide them documented proof of the great financial burden or medical necessity.
If there is an attorney involved or you had a judicial hearing, the process is a little longer. It takes them 90 days to make a decision on your claim, after you have already been waiting for sometime in the first place. Once you receive your letter of approval, it will also state your benefit and back payment amount on your letter.
The set up process is done the exact same way as above, with one exception. You will begin getting your regular check, but any back payments will go to your attorney so they can take out their fee. It is still divided into separate increments, but the fee agreed upon in your hearing, will either be taken out and mailed directly to your attorney, and then forwarded to you. In some cases, the first payment will go to your attorney, where the attorney removes their fee and sends the remaining balance (if any) to you. This can hold back payments up from you receiving them, for an additional amount of time. Once the attorney is paid, any future back payments get sent directly to you.
The way they pay you also depends on a few things. Whether or not you are getting SSD (Supplemental Security Disability for those who have worked and earned enough work credits) or if you are getting SSI (Social Security Supplemental Disability). If you are only receiving one or the other, the process for getting paid is quicker. If you receive a combination of the two then it is a little different, you will receive your SSI portion first and your regular monthly benefit. Then a few months later you will get the SSD, it will generally be offset, by the amount of SSI that you have received
Also, if you were receiving public benefits, while you were waiting to get approved, your payments will be held up around an additional thirty days, while they are reimbursed.
Once you get approved for disability, they will review your case every one to three years, to see if your are still disabled. Generally they will not review you, if you have a ticket to work or involved in a plan through your State Vocational Rehabilitation Services to obtain re-training or seek employment for up to three years as long as you are actively participating in it. Every year in January, the Federal Government increases Social Security Benefits for inflation, this amount is usually around fifteen dollars, but you should recieve a letter around November or December about it. Also, for those recieving Medicare, you are only able to change your plan one time a year, around November, so if you are not happy with your Medicare Plan you need to check with your local office and find out the exact time constraints for doing this.