One of the most frustrating things about the Social Security disability process is the five month waiting period.
It works like this: if you’re approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (the program you pay into with your payroll taxes), you simply don’t get paid the first month of your disability.
So, if you’re to allege disability beginning on January 1, 2023, your backpay is actually calculated beginning on June 1.
Some claimants also meet the criteria for the need-based Supplemental Security Income program, which allows them to collect SSI benefits (which are usually less than SSDI payments) for those five months, but many people simply don’t receive anything for those five months.
The idea behind the five month waiting period has long been to ensure claimants really do have long-term disabilities, but the actual effect has been to bankrupt many people who desperately need benefits, or to completely avoid paying disability to the terminally ill.
Advocates for the disabled have long lobbied against this policy, and now it appears they may finally be making some progress.
Earlier this month, Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the We Can’t Wait Act that would finally eliminate the five month waiting period. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.
So far, the bill has broad support from both parties, so there is some optimism it could be passed by this Congress, though it’s far from certain it will be signed into law in the coming year.