You had your Social Security disability hearing a few days ago, and even though the judge didn’t say you were approved, you thought it went pretty well. How long will it take before you are given a decision—and if you are approved for benefits, how long will you have to wait before your payments arrive?

How Soon Will Your Benefits Start After a Social Security Disability Hearing?

Even after you have gone through the long process of waiting for a hearing to be scheduled, you may have even more waiting in store after your case is heard. While there is no standard amount of time to receive a decision from a judge after your disability hearing, here are some general estimates you can use to plan:

  • Two months. Some judges advise claimants that it may take up to two months before they receive an official decision in their case. This delay is because the judge issues instructions to decision writers that actually prepare the decision for the judge's review and signature. The amount of the delay depends on whether the hearing office is backed up with additional cases.
  • Six weeks. Once you have received an official approval notice, there may be an additional wait time before your benefits are disbursed to your account. This is because your file is sent from the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) to a payment center once it has been approved. Your claim must be processed in order to calculate the amount of your monthly benefits and any back payments you are owed. The amount of time your claim stays at a payment processing center will vary depending on the number of claims waiting to be processed. 
  • “As soon as possible.” Your award letter should state how much you will receive in monthly benefits, as well as how soon you may expect your payments to arrive. However, the timeline for these benefits depends on the coordination of several different offices, so your actual wait time can be considerably longer or shorter depending on where you live and which hearing office has heard your case.

Claimants can contact their local Social Security office if their benefits have not arrived by the date noted on their award letter.However the best advice is to be patient. Unfortunately there is not much that even a skilled advocate is able to accomplish with the payment center, we will however try our best  to get you paid.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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