Most people in California know that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is a part of the federal government and that it pays older, retired workers monthly benefit checks. What some people may not know, however, is that the Social Security Administration also sends monthly checks to disabled children as well as to disabled adults who are under the age of 62. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides monthly benefit payments to disabled workers. However, only those disabled workers who meet precise medical requirements are qualified to receive SSDI benefit payments.

Social Security Disability Insurance offers benefit payments exclusively to those who have been employed and who have paid Social Security taxes long enough and recently enough to be eligible for the benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance is an earned benefit for workers with physical and mental disabilities. SSDI benefits may be received by blinded or disabled workers, their surviving children and spouses, and adults who have been disabled since childhood or birth.

It would be better if disabled workers had more convenient access to disability benefits and medical treatment. Sadly, however, the disability benefit system established by the Social Security Administration does not always provide the disabled worker with quick, convenient access. Disability benefit applicants who have been approved to receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits must endure a five-month waiting period before the SSA owes disability benefits to the applicant.


That’s right. The Social Security Administration withholds five months of an approved applicant’s Social Security Disability Insurance benefits before starting monthly payments or calculating back payments owed to the applicant. The five-month waiting period for SSDI benefits begins on the applicant’s established onset date (“EOD”) of his or her disability. The Social Security Administration establishes this date as the date when the applicant became disabled. Therefore, the date when the applicant is actually entitled to SSDI benefits is at least five months after the date when the applicant became disabled. Three dates are important:

  • the established onset date
  • the application date
  • the entitlement date

The entitlement date, however, can be no more than twelve months prior to the application date, which means that the established onset date can’t be more than seventeen months before the application date. In some cases, the SSA actually sets the established onset date after the application date. Confused? You are not alone. Most of those in Southern California who need to apply for SSDI benefits will need the help and guidance of an experienced Los Angeles Social Security disability lawyer.

If you have a “protective filing date,” a precise date when you informed the SSA that you would be applying for SSDI benefits, the protective filing date functions as your application date for the purposes of the seventeen-month period. The entitlement date can be twelve months prior to the protective filing date, which means that your established onset date of disability can be seventeen months prior to the protective filing date. This means that you can be paid Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for the twelve months prior to the protective date.


In most cases, the five months are spent awaiting the SSA’s decision about an applicant’s eligibility, so the applicant does not actually wait for five months after the decision for benefits has been made to start receiving those benefits. Exceptions to the five-month wait include applicants who are eligible for “expedited reinstatement” if they previously received SSDI payments, returned to work, and are disabled again, if no more than five years pass from the first disability onset date to the second.

Anyone who seeks dependent benefits as a disabled worker’s child will have no waiting period, and those who are approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) qualify for benefit payments beginning the very next month. However, the Supplemental Security Income program is limited exclusively to those with low incomes and meager assets. The differences between SSDI and SSI are important to understand if you need to receive disability benefit payments.

SSDI benefits can sometimes be approved quickly if you suffer from one of the serious medical conditions on the Social Security Administration’s “Compassionate Allowance” list. The Compassionate Allowance exception allows the SSA to identify the most seriously disabled applicants and get benefits to them as promptly as possible. The conditions that make someone eligible for Compassionate Allowance include but are not limited to most cancers, some types of muscular atrophy and muscular dystrophy, ALS, and early-onset Alzheimer’s.


Eligibility to receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits is often difficult to establish and is always a complicated task, so it is important to talk with a good disability attorney to better understand your eligibility for benefits. Your disability must prevent you from working for twelve months or more (or your condition must be terminal). About 25 percent of all SSDI applications are rejected because the SSA determines that a disability is not serious enough to prevent the applicant from working.

Adequate documentation and accurate records are key to the success of your application for SSDI benefit payments. The Social Security Administration assesses an applicant’s medical condition and medical records, work history, and the type of work an applicant has performed previously. A number of documents and precise details are required. Social Security rules and regulations are always complicated and are quite frankly sometimes baffling.

In Southern California, if you apply to receive SSDI payments, a knowledgeable Los Angeles Social Security disability lawyer can boost your likelihood of approval for benefits by helping you accurately complete the applications and if necessary by advocating on your behalf at an appeal hearing before a Social Security administrative law judge. The rejection of someone’s first application for disability benefits is typical, although those benefits are frequently approved when an applicant pursues an appeal.

If your own SSDI application has been rejected, if it is pending, or if you are recently disabled and are only now learning about SSDI benefits, an experienced disability benefits attorney can explain how the SSA arrives at its decisions regarding disability and can direct you through the application procedure. It can be a long ordeal, so if you need Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in Southern California, a good disability attorney can help you get started.