Noteworthy Results Specific case results. No two cases are alike.

Will My Social Security Disability Benefits Arrive in Time for the Holidays?


One of the questions we get most often this time of year at Hensley Legal Group is whether or not a person’s Social Security disability benefits will arrive in time for the holidays.

First, it matters where you are in the process. If you’ve just submitted an initial application, it takes about three or five months just to get a response. Since more than two-thirds of people receive a denial, you’ll probably have to file a request for reconsideration. That takes another two to four months to get a response, and there’s an even greater likelihood of a denial: 88 percent.

If your request for reconsideration is denied, you’ll want to file a request for hearing. It takes an average of 20 months to get a hearing from the time you request one. Unfortunately, if you’re stuck waiting for a hearing by the time the holidays roll around, you probably won’t get approved in time to purchase presents for loved ones.

However, if you’ve been approved for benefits, you still might have to wait one to three months before you receive your first monthly payment. It can take several months to receive your past due benefits as well.

But let’s say you’ve been approved for a while now and you’re set to receive benefits this December. Will they arrive before or after Santa visits your home? That depends on a number of factors.

When You’ll Receive Your Monthly Disability Benefits

2020 holiday benefits calendar

First, when you receive your benefits depends on what type of Social Security program you’ve qualified for.

There are two kinds of Social Security disability: disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI). To qualify for DIB, you need a solid work history to prove that you’ve paid into the Social Security system through taxes. To qualify for SSI, you don’t need to have worked, but your household does need to meet certain income limitations.

DIB Payment Scheduledefine-disability-insurance-benefits-dib

If you’re receiving DIB, when you receive your monthly payment depends on your birthday. The Social Security Administration (SSA) pays beneficiaries on Wednesday each month. Which Wednesday depends on your birthday:

  • Born on the 1st-10th: Second Wednesday of the month
  • Born on the 11th-20th: Third Wednesday of the month
  • Born on the 21st-31st: Fourth Wednesday of the month

When Wednesdays fall on federal holidays, you’ll receive your monthly payment the day before on a Tuesday.

That means that for December, the payment calendar looks like this:

  • 1st-10th: December 9
  • 11th-20th: December 16
  • 21st-31st: December 23

This year, everyone who receives DIB will receive their monthly payment in time for Christmas.

SSI Payment Schedule

ssi explained

For SSI, the SSA makes payment a little simpler. Instead of relying on birthdays, all SSI recipients are paid on the first of the month. If the first of the month falls on the weekend, you’ll receive your monthly benefit the Friday before the first. If it’s a federal holiday, then you’ll receive your payment the day before, unless the first is a Monday, in which case you’ll skip Sunday and Saturday and instead receive your payment on the Friday before the first.

For December 2020, SSI recipients should receive their payments on Tuesday, December 1. They will receive their January payment on December 31.

What If I Receive Both DIB and SSI?

Some individuals receive payments from both Social Security disability programs. Instead of juggling two payments, the SSA simplifies things and simply pays all those who receive both DIB and SSI on the third of the month. If the third falls on the weekend, SSA pays recipients on the Friday before the third.

In 2020, people receiving both DIB and SSI will receive their payments on Thursday, December 3.

These various payment schedules for DIB, SSI, and both programs only apply to people who have been receiving benefits since May 1997. If you’ve been receiving benefits prior to May 1997, then you’ll piggyback on the payment system for those who receive both forms of disability and receive your payment on the third.

View the SSA benefits calendars here.

How Will I Receive My Monthly Benefit?


Because the holidays are so close, you may be worried about the idea of getting a paper check in the mail. What if your payment gets lost, or you can’t cash it in time for the holidays?

You don’t have to worry about that because Social Security ended its paper check payment system on March 1, 2013. Instead, you’ll receive your monthly benefit electronically. Either Social Security will deposit your check directly via direct deposit or will load your Direct Express® Debit Card. Regardless, you should get your money on the Wednesday that corresponds with your birthday or the first of the month for December, depending on what program you’ve qualified for.

Remember, your payments come a month behind for Social Security. That means that if your benefits start in December, you won’t receive them until the next month, January. If your benefits were supposed to start in November, you’ll receive your first check this month.

Help from an Indiana Social Security Disability Lawyer

If you’ve been approved for benefits, it’s a comfort to know that your monthly payment is coming, regardless of where it falls in the month. However, for many people, the holidays will be tight this year because they have yet to be approved for the benefits they deserve.

If you’re applying for Social Security disability benefits, Hensley Legal Group can help. Whether you’re starting your first application, in the middle of an appeal, or waiting for your final hearing, an Indiana disability lawyer can guide you through the approval process. Call us today or contact us online for a free review of your disability claim.