Social Security Status
Use your my Social Security account to check the status of your Social Security application. You’ll be provided with an estimate on when the approval decision will be made. The Social Security Administration (SSA) also has an automated phone service, at 1-800-772-1213, for an update on your application status. This service is available 24/7.
- Written by Lindsey Crossmier
Lindsey Crossmier is an accomplished writer with experience working for The Florida Review and Bookstar PR. As a financial writer, she covers Medicare, life insurance and dental insurance topics for RetireGuide. Research-based data drives her work.Read More
- Edited BySavannah Hanson
Senior Financial Editor
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- Reviewed ByBrandon Renfro, Ph.D., CFP®, RICP®, EA
Brandon Renfro, Ph.D., CFP®, RICP®, EA
Retirement and Social Security Expert
Brandon Renfro is a Retirement and Social Security Expert and financial planner. He focuses on helping clients create a secure financial future in retirement and co-owns Belonging Wealth Management. He is also a former finance professor and writes for several publications.Read More
- Published: March 3, 2023
- Updated: March 22, 2023
- 8 min read time
- This page features 13 Cited Research Articles
- Edited By
- You can check the status of your Social Security application online, on your my Social Security account or by dialing 1-800-772-1213.
- It typically takes six weeks for your retirement application to be approved, and several months for your disability or survivors application to be approved.
- An incomplete application is the most common reason for application delays.
- You could be reimbursed for some of the payments you missed if your application approval was delayed.
Can You Check Your Social Security Status Online?
You can check the status of your retirement or disability Social Security application online through your my Social Security account. Once logged into your my Social Security account and within the current status section, you will be able to see where you’re at in the process and an estimated timeframe for approval.
- Login or create a my Social Security account.
- Scroll down to the “Your Benefit Applications” tab on the home screen and select “View Details” under the “More Info” section.
- Check your Social Security status in the “Current Status” section.
Since you can’t apply for survivors benefits online, you should use the SSA’s automated phone service at 1-800-772-1213 to check the status of your application. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, call TTY 1-800-325-0778 to reach SSA’s customer service instead.
If you decide to use the 24/7 automated phone service to check your approval status, say “application status” when the automated operator asks “How can I help you today?” to be led to the right service.
How Long Does It Take for a Social Security Application To Be Approved?
The average wait time for your Social Security application to be approved varies, depending on what type of benefit you’re applying for.
|Type of Social Security Benefit||Average Wait Time for Approval|
|Retirement benefits||Six weeks|
|Disability benefits||Three to five months|
|Survivors benefits||Two to three months|
Retirement benefits are typically approved the fastest, with an average six week waiting time.
Disability benefits take longer, averaging around three to five months until your application is approved. However, the approval process is currently taking longer than usual, due to low staffing issues.
SSA data showed a record high processing timeframe for disability approval at 198 days, over six months, as of August 2022. Unfortunately, the processing time hasn’t improved. As of January 2023, the average processing timeframe for disability approval increased to 218 days.
“Survivors benefits take two to three months on average to process,” Andrew Lokenauth, Founder of Fluent in Finance with over 15 years working with Social Security, told RetireGuide. If you’re trying to get benefits for someone other than a spouse, child or dependent parent — the approval process could take longer since you’ll likely need more documentation.
Remember that you have up to two years after the death of your loved one to apply for survivors benefits and that you can only apply at an office or by calling the SSA.
Survivors benefits take 2 to 3 months on average to process.
Reasons Your Application May Take Longer Than Expected
Missing required documents or accidentally providing incorrect information with your Social Security application can cause a delay.
For example, if you’re applying for disability benefits, you’ll need to provide ample medical evidence proving your disability, your W-2, birth certificate and proof of U.S. citizenship along with other relevant information to apply. If you miss even one document, your application will be considered incomplete, and benefits will be delayed.
The SSA has also been understaffed and underfunded which has been causing delays in applications. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities predicts this customer service issue will continue into 2023 unless funding improves.
Lokenauth advised several common reasons for why your application may be delayed, which are listed below. These reasons are relevant to retirement, disability and survivors applications. Reviewing the list below can help you be wary of potential delay roadblocks.
- Incomplete application: lack of essential information such as medical records or work history.
- Medical evidence: incomplete or difficult to obtain medical evidence.
- Work history: complicated or difficult to verify work history.
- Disability determination: complex and time-consuming process for disability determination.
To clarify, confirm that you have all your required documents, medical evidence and work history verified to avoid your Social Security application being delayed.
Is Social Security Hard To Get Approved?
Social Security disability applications are the most difficult to get approved, with 67% of disability claims denied on average, according to an SSA report.
Retirement benefits have fewer eligibility rules and documents required. You simply need to be above a specific age and have worked long enough in a job covered by Social Security.
Survivors benefits are more complex. There are only specific people who qualify, work credits function differently and you can’t apply online.
The number of beneficiaries can also highlight how easy it is to be approved for Social Security benefits.
|Type of Beneficiary||Number of Beneficiaries|
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to one in four adults in the U.S. have a type of disability. With the U.S. population estimated to be 334,233,854 as of Jan. 1, 2023, the almost 9 million of disability beneficiaries suggests it is hard to meet the requirements to get approved for benefits.
Reasons You May Be Denied
With retirement benefits, you could be denied if you didn’t earn enough work credits or if you’re not old enough. Typically, you need at least 40 credits.
You could be denied disability benefits if your disability doesn’t meet the SSA’s definition of disability or if your disability won’t last a year. Disability benefits don’t cover short-term disabilities.
There are several reasons why you could be denied survivors benefits, which vary on your relation to the deceased. For example, if you’re a divorced spouse and your ex-spouse passed away — you can still qualify for survivors benefits. However, if you remarry before you turn 60 (or 50 if you’re disabled), your survivors benefits will then be denied.
How Far Back Does SS Go Once Approved?
The process of getting approved for any type of Social Security can take months. So, what happens to the benefits you were qualified for during those months? How far back your Social Security benefits go varies depending on the type of benefit you’ve been approved for.
- Retirement benefits
- If you delay receiving your retirement benefits, you can get up to six months of lost benefits back. These payments are called retroactive payments.
Even if you delay benefits for a whole year, you’ll only get the six months of benefits back. However, collecting retroactive payments does make you lose your delayed retirement credits, which lowers your retirement benefit amount for the rest of your life.
- Disability benefits
- If the approval of your disability benefit application was delayed, you can get the missing months of benefits back. How far missed payments go back is calculated by taking your established onset date (EOD), the date you were approved for benefits and subtracting the five-month waiting period.
For example, if 10 months have passed from the time of your EOD and when your claim was approved — you’d be due five months of benefits. This is because the five-month waiting period had to be subtracted from your 10 months without benefits.
- Survivors benefits
- Survivors benefits are only payable after the individual passes away. You can qualify for a lump-sum payment of $255 with survivors benefits if you apply for the payment within two years of the individual’s death.
How To Know if You Are Receiving Social Security Benefits
Check your application status on your my Social Security account, or call 1-800-772-1213, to see if you’ve been approved for benefits. Once you’ve confirmed that your application was approved, your benefits will be on the way shortly.
Remember that there are different time frames to start receiving benefits. For example, if you’re applying for disability benefits, there is a five-month waiting period.
You can choose when you want to start receiving your retirement benefit. Some choose to apply and wait to start receiving benefits until they’re 70 to maximize their social security payments.
When you start receiving your survivors benefits depends on your age. For example, you can receive 100% of your survivors benefit amount once you reach your full retirement age or older.
Be sure to consider what your financial future might look like when applying for benefits.
13 Cited Research Articles
- Social Security Administration. (2023, January 31). Open Government Initiative. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/open/data/Combined-Disability-Processing-Time.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, January 5). Disability Impacts All of Us. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/infographic-disability-impacts-all.html
- Social Security Administration. (2023, January). Benefits Paid by Type of Beneficiary. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/currentpay.cgi
- Social Security Administration. (2023). Check Application or Appeal Status. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/apply/check-application-or-appeal-status
- Moore, D. (2022, December 29). U.S. Population Estimated at 334,233,854 on Jan. 1, 2023. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2022/12/happy-new-year-2023.html
- Social Security Administration. (2022, November 16). Who Is Eligible To Receive Social Security Survivors Benefits and How Do I Apply? Retrieved from https://faq.ssa.gov/en-us/Topic/article/KA-02083
- Romig, K. (2022, May 26). Policymakers Must Act To Address Social Security Service Crisis. Retrieved from https://www.cbpp.org/blog/policymakers-must-act-to-address-social-security-service-crisis
- Social Security Administration. (2019, January). How To Check Your Application Status. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/assets/materials/EN-05-10670.pdf
- O'Connor Law PLLC. (n.d.). What SSDI Applicants Need To Know About Back Pay. Retrieved from https://www.nyworkerslaw.com/library/understanding-ssdi-back-pay/
- Social Security Administration. (n.d.). Delayed Retirement Credits. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/delayret.html
- Social Security Administration. (n.d.). Disability Benefits. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability/
- Social Security Administration. (n.d.). If You Are the Survivor. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/survivors/ifyou.html
- Social Security Administration. (n.d.). What You Should Know Before You Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/disability/Documents/Factsheet-AD.pdf
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