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Home » Glossary » Award Letter

Definition of Award Letter

Social Security disability award letters are sent to disability applicants who have been given Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Letters are sent via mail after the Social Security Administration (SSA) makes their disability determination. The award letter contains details about the claimant's disability benefit as well as the estimated date of the first payment. The disability process can take weeks, months or years. The amount of time for approval will vary depending on whether the claimant is at the application, reconsideration or hearing level. The Social Security Administration estimates that if a claimant's application is at the application or reconsideration level and they are approved, they should receive their check within 90 days.

At the hearing level, however, it could take much longer. For instance, claimants who are approved at the hearing level will first receive a Notice of Decision letter, which notifies them of the judge's approval decision. The Notice of Award letter, however, may not be received for another six weeks.

Many claimants want to know why it takes so long to get an award letter. Unfortunately, there are millions of disability applications each year, and only a small percentage of workers are awarded benefits the first time they apply. Additionally, even if a claimant is approved some processing centers are responsible for processing thousands of disability claims, many of which are understaffed. Other claimants are denied multiple times and may never receive an SSI or SSDI awards letter.

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