A Social Security Disability award letter, or notice of award, is the formal letter received from the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Disability Determination Services (DDS) office that informs you that you are eligible to receive disability benefits.

When You Will Receive the Award Letter

You will receive the award letter after the DDS office reviews and approves your application for Social Security disability insurance benefits. An award letter typically arrives within one to three months after you are found eligible for Social Security disability benefits, but the letter might arrive sooner or later than this average timeframe. Because backlogs and delays are common with the SSA, the exact timeframe for the arrival of your award letter cannot be predicted. Occasionally, the initial disability benefits are deposited directly into a claimant’s bank account before the award letter arrives in the mail. Be assured that eventually an award letter will be processed.

What Information Is Included in the Award Letter

The award letter details relevant information about your disability benefits eligibility and payments, including:

  • The date you became disabled (also known as the onset date)
  • The first month you are entitled to receive benefits
  • Any lump sum amount of past due benefits that you are owed (also known as your back pay)
  • The date your past due benefits will be sent to you
  • The amount of your monthly disability benefit payments
  • When you can expect to receive your payment each month
  • When you will be expected to undergo a continuing disability review

Most recipients are owed retroactive benefit payments. Because claims for Social Security disability insurance usually take a lengthy amount of time to complete the review process with the DDS, recipients usually are due benefits for the time period from the first month of eligibility up to the date of the award letter. These past due benefit payments are paid in a single lump sum.

Watch our video to understand how to review for mistakes your Notice of Award.


How to Get Another Copy of the Award Letter

If for some reason you need a replacement copy of your original award letter, you can request a copy by either calling the SSA at 800-772-1213 or visiting your local office. If a copy is not available, the SSA can give you an official letter with the information that you need about your eligibility or benefits.

What to Do if You Disagree With the Award Letter

The award letter also will inform you about your rights if you disagree with any of the information. The letter will detail the process you can follow to formally question, or appeal, the determination made by the DDS. For example, if you think that you are owed more retroactive payments or that you should be eligible for a higher monthly benefit payment, then you have the right to appeal the DDS’ decision. If you submit an appeal, you will continue to receive the monthly benefits as stated in the award letter until your appeal is decided. Once a final decision is made on your appeal, any adjustments due to your monthly or retroactive benefits then will be made.

Do you have questions about your award letter or calculation of payments? Are you thinking about appealing the decision? Consider the Good Law Group for your representation. Call (847) 577-4476 or complete the online evaluation form.