What’s in a Social Security Award Letter?

social security award letter

When the Social Security Administration (SSA) awards disability benefits, they send out a Notice of Award. This notice explains the disability benefits you are entitled to, the amount you are owed, the benefits you will receive, and other important information you need to know now that you are entitled to disability benefits. The letter also serves as proof of income, which is particularly useful when applying for loans or other assistance programs.

 In this article, we’ll explain the important things to note in Social Security’s Notice of Award and your rights to appeal if you disagree with anything in the notice.

Detailed Breakdown of the Social Security Award Letter

A Social Security award letter contains the following information:

Header and recipient information

The top of the Notice of Award contains the Social Security Administration’s logo and the address of the SSA’s Payment Center, which is the office that calculates and administers disability benefits. This verifies that the letter is official and from the SSA.

 The Notice of Award is addressed to the disability recipient. This section contains the recipient’s name, address, and Social Security number. It verifies the identity of the recipient and confirms the address where the award is being sent.

You should also note the date of the Notice of Award. This may become important if you wish to appeal any error within the notice.

Award announcement

The Notice of Award will explain your entitlement to SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) disability benefits. This part of the letter announces the approval of the Social Security benefits. It will explain that you are disabled, when they determined you became disabled, and when your entitlement to disability benefits begins. Generally, your SSI disability entitlement begins when you file for disability benefits. For SSDI, there is a five-month waiting period. SSDI disability entitlement begins in the sixth month after the SSA determines your disability began.

Benefit amount

This section of the Notice explains the benefits you are owed and the monthly benefits you can expect in the future. For SSDI benefits, it also explains how the SSA calculated this amount based on your earnings history.

Payment Schedule

This part of the notice outlines when the recipient can expect to receive their benefits. It will detail the specific date or day of the month when payments will be made. Usually, SSI benefits are paid on the first of the month. For SSDI benefits, payment days are paid on the second, third, or fourth Wednesday of the month. Your date of birth usually determines when you will receive SSDI disability benefits.

Taxes and deductions

This section details any taxes or deductions that will be taken out of the benefit amount. It helps the recipient understand why the net amount they receive might be less than the gross benefit amount.

The SSA will take into consideration workers’ compensation or other public disability payments you received. If the total amount of your SSA monthly benefit and any other public disability benefits exceed 80% of your average earnings, the excess amount will be deducted from your Social Security disability benefit.

In our experience, we have seen the SSA make mistakes when making these calculations. If you believe your benefit was inaccurately deducted, you may need to contact the SSA to make this correction.

Information about Medicare

SSDI recipients will become eligible for Medicare 24 months after they become eligible for disability benefits. The Notice of Award will explain when your Medicare coverage begins. Look to this section of the notice for important information about your medical insurance coverage.

Your responsibilities

Now that you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits, you must abide by the SSA’s reporting requirements. The Notice of Award will explain that you have to report any important changes that may affect your disability benefits. This includes any changes in your disability, a return to work, and receipt of other public disability benefits.

Appeal information and contact information

If you disagree with the SSA’s decision, you have the right to file an appeal. You may appeal the onset date of disability, the monthly disability amount, or the deductions that were made.

The Notice of Award includes contact information for your local SSA office, including phone numbers and office hours. Any questions you have, appeals that need to be filed, or corrections that need to be made should be sent to your local SSA office.

What If You Disagree with the Content of the Social Security Award Letter?

If you don’t agree with any of the information included in your Notice of Award, take the following steps:

Carefully review the award letter

Start by thoroughly reading the award letter to understand the details of the decision. Ensure you understand the reasons for the decision as stated in the letter, the date SSA determined you became disabled, and any deductions that were made.

Identify areas of disagreement

Pinpoint the areas of the award letter you disagree with. This could be the benefit amount, the effective date, or any other specifics related to your case.

Gather supporting documents

Gather all the necessary documents that prove your case. This could include medical records, employment history, public disability payments, or any other relevant evidence that supports your claim.

Reach out to the Social Security Administration

Contact your SSA office to express your disagreement. Their phone number can be found within the notice. It’s crucial to communicate your concerns as soon as possible since there’s a 60-day window for appeals.

File an appeal

If you still disagree with the SSA’s decision after discussing it with them, you can file an appeal. You can do this online here, in person, or by mail. With the appeal, ensure to include all relevant documentation and your reasons for your appeal.

Consult with a disability lawyer

If your appeal is complex, consider consulting with a disability lawyer. They can guide you through the process and increase your chances of a successful appeal. Our representatives at LaPorte Law Firm, specifically, have experience filing appeals to contest the onset date of disability or contest the disability amounts owed.

Timeframe for Receiving the Social Security Award Letter

Once the SSA decides that you are disabled, it will take the Payment Center and the local SSA office approximately one month to calculate your benefits and issue the Notice of Award. This timeframe may vary depending on the complexity of the case and the workload at the Social Security office.

Factors affecting the time to receive the Social Security award letter

Here are four common reasons that may delay your receipt of a Notice of Award:

  • Complexity of the case: If the case is complex, it may require additional time for evaluation, hence delaying the award letter.
  • Workload at the Social Security office: The number of applications and appeals being processed at the office can affect the time it takes to receive the letter. Recently, we have noticed an uptick in wait time to process and receive the Notice of Award due to SSA backlogs.
  • Accuracy of information: Clear and accurate information can expedite the process, while incomplete or inaccurate details can lead to delays.
  • Unresolved information: The SSA requires important information, such as public disability benefit awards and direct deposit information, to process and pay benefits. If this information is missing, it may lead to a delay in the receipt of the Notice of Award.

What to Do If the Social Security Award Letter Doesn't Arrive

If a decision has been made and you have not received the notice from the SSA, we recommend that you contact your local SSA office. You can check the status of your application or appeal online through the Social Security website.


A Social Security award letter, also known as a benefit verification letter or award notice, is an official document issued by the US Social Security Administration (SSA). This letter serves as proof of your Social Security benefits and contains several key pieces of information as described in the above article.

 Your local SSA office will send you a notice when they need additional information or a decision is made in your disability case. It is important to review and respond to these notices in a timely manner.

An appeal can be filed online here or by filling out and submitting form SSA-561 and faxing or mailing it to your local Social Security office. A waiver cannot be filed online. You can file the waiver by submitting form SSA-632 and faxing it or mailing it to your local Social Security office.

The Notice of Award will explain when you can expect to receive your first disability payment. In many cases, you will receive your money when you receive the award letter.

If you need to pay back an overpayment and you are not receiving benefits, the Social Security Administration will send bills and eventually pursue other collection methods. During this overpayment collection, you can set up a payment plan with your local Social Security office.

You can track the status of your case or file an appeal online. To set up an account online, create an account here. The my Social Security account is a helpful tool for tracking the status of your case. But the important notices, including the Notice of Award, cannot be found online and will be mailed to you.

Suggested Articles

Free SSDI Assessment Quiz

You are not sure whether you qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits ? Take our free assessment quiz.

masthead cover eBook disability hearing remote

FREE e-book : How to prepare for a remote disability hearing via phone or video.

Make a positive impression at your remote disability hearing with our expert tips.

img blog free ssdi assessment quiz r2

FREE WEBINAR: How to prepare for a social security disability hearing

cover ebook complete SSDI res

FREE e-book : The Social Security Disability Application Process.

Navigate the complexities of the Social Security Disability application with ease!

Free SSDI Assessment Quiz

You are not sure whether you qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits ? Take our free assessment quiz.

Watch a free video presentation by the attorneys at LaPorte Law Firm – How to prepare for a Social Security disability hearing