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Notice Of Award


Once the Disability Determination Services (DDS) Analyst makes a decision about whether or not you are disabled, your file is returned to the Social Security field office. You are then sent a letter notifying you of the decision. Note that many files will be in an electronic format, with no paper copies. However, you will still receive paper notices and letters.

If you are approved for Social Security Disability Insurance, you won't have to wonder because the letterhead on the letter includes "Notice of Award." This letter is an important document. DO NOT LOSE IT!

The Notice of Award also contains some information you should be aware of:

  • Onset Date -- The "onset date" is the date set by Social Security as the date you became disabled. Usually the letter will state: "We found that you became disabled under our rules on (month)(day)(year)." This date serves as the start of the five month waiting period before SSDI benefits become payable.
  • Benefit Amount -- The letter will tell you the amount of your benefit. If your benefit is reduced for any reason such as you are also receiving a State Disability benefit, the letter will state both the reduced amount and the amount you will be eligible to receive once the other payment stops.
  • Date You Start Receiving Benefits -- The letter will state the date that you will start receiving benefits, a date five full months after the Onset Date. For Example: If your Onset Date is December 14, five full months is June 1 (you don't count December because it's not a full month).
  • Estimated Time of Continuing Disability Review -- The letter will usually also state the number of years before Social Security will review your file in a Continuing Disability Review.
  • Additional information -- If there are other facts, such as money withheld to repay past overpayments or other unusual features of your benefits, they will be stated in the letter.

The Notice of Award letter is valuable and should be kept in a safe place for several reasons:

  • If you have health coverage which is extended under COBRA, a copy of the Award needs to be submitted to the COBRA administrator to obtain the 11-month OBRAcontinuation. To qualify for OBRA, the COBRA administrator must receive a copy of the Notice of Award letter within 60 days of your getting it -- and this must be within the 18 months during which you receive COBRA.
  • A copy of the letter should be sent to any other providers of disability benefits, including individual Disability Income and Group Long Term Disability insurance companies.
  • Your Medicare coverage starts 24 months from the date you are entitled to receive SSDI. The letter provides proof of the start date for the calculation. In the example above, if the benefits began on June 1, 2015, then Medicare starts on June 1, 2017 (24 months later.)

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