Social Security Q&A

Q: Why is there a five-month waiting period for Social Security disability benefits?

A: By law, Social Security disability benefits can be paid only after a worker has been disabled continuously throughout a period of five full calendar months. The first benefit paid is for the sixth month of disability and is paid in the seventh month. This waiting period ensures that we pay benefits only to persons with long-term disabilities and avoid duplicating other income protection plans (such as employer sick-pay plans) during the early months of disability.

To learn more, read our online publication, Disability Benefits at — — —

Q: What happens to my Medicare coverage if my Social Security benefits stop because I go to jail?

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A: If you were getting Medicare and monthly Social Security benefits before you went to jail, your benefits will stop but your hospital insurance (Part A) coverage will continue. To keep your medical insurance (Part B) coverage, you must pay the premiums. If your coverage ends while you are in jail because you did not pay your Medicare premiums, you will be able to enroll again during the next General Enrollment Period (January through March of each year). Your coverage will start again in July of the year you re-enroll. If you do re-enroll, you will be responsible for any unpaid past-due premiums and your ongoing premium may be higher.

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This column was prepared by the Social Security Administration. For fast answers to specific Social Security questions, contact Social Security toll-free at 800-772-1213.