Social Security Award Letter Examples [SSDI vs. SSI]

As a Social Security Disability Benefit payment applicant, you will only receive a Social Security Benefits Award Letter if your application is approved by the Social Security Administration (SAA). You will receive the letter within one to three months.

With this letter, you will get an overview of information regarding the benefits you will be receiving. The letter will focus on your SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and SSI (Supplemental Security Insurance) payments, but you must remember that these two are different.

This will mean that you will be liable to receive the payments. The Social Security Administration (SAA) only approves specific people. These people should expect their payments every month once approved and receive the letter.

A Social Security Award Letter, also known as an award notice, is a letter that highlights the disability benefits that the SAA has awarded you.

The letter is meant to prove that you are eligible for the mentioned disability benefits. It also provides other important information, including:

  • The date when you will receive the disability payments or when you become eligible for the payments
  • The amount to be received
  • The next date for the subsequent payments

The award letter is sent chiefly through the mail. You should apply for the disability benefits online, according to the SAA. Even after applying online, you are likely to have an interview or phone appointment with the SAA for about one hour for identity verification. Ensure that the SAA receives all the requested documents to speed up the application process.

If your first application for disability benefits is not accepted, you can appeal. In this case, it will take more than three months to receive this letter and enjoy the disability benefits.


There is a difference between the SSDI and the SSI. The SSI (Supplemental Security Insurance) is a program that is funded by a collective group of taxpayers and can be collected by any person, regardless of their work history. The SSI offers assistance in the form of cash for basic needs to individuals who are impaired, disabled, have little to zero income, or are at the age of retirement (65 years old and above). The basic needs, in this case, include food, clothing, and shelter.


Some individuals may choose to postpone their collection to increase their monthly benefit payment for retirement.

The SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) is a program that operates like a complex credit system that takes into account the number of years someone has worked. The SSDI is meant to help people with certain medical conditions that are disabling. These conditions are considered disabling if they lead to death or force them to stay away from work for one year.  

In addition, SSDI is meant to improve the way of life by providing medical and basic expenses.

Understanding SSAL

Some essential components must be present in an award letter. Here are some of the most important contents found in this letter:

Benefit amounts

The award letter will contain a section where the SAA must fill out the benefit amount you are approved to receive. The Social Security Department usually calculates this benefit amount to determine how much money you will receive every month. This amount is known as the PIA (Primary Insurance Amount).

To calculate this, the SAA will select the years when you received the highest income and divide the yearly salary average from those years by 12 months to find the AIME (average indexed monthly earnings). The AIME is usually adjusted to cater to inflation.

After that, the SAA will take 90% of the AIME below $960, 32% of the AIME above $960 but below $5,785, and 15% of the remaining AIME to determine the PIA.

Monthly payment dates

The award letter will also contain the monthly payment dates to determine when you will collect your monthly benefits. The monthly dates for payment vary from person to person based on what they have applied for.


Applying for SSDI will lead to a mandatory 5-month wait before setting the monthly payment dates.


You may receive your monthly benefits through Direct Deposit (bank account), Direct Express debit card (given by the SSA), and an Electronic Transfer Account.

Back pay amounts

These back pay amounts are paid to you, in the case of SSI or SSDI, through your bank accounts if the application process for the disability benefits takes too long to process. The award letter will contain the back pay amount details to highlight an individual’s past-due amounts.

The amount to be received by you is based on the time it took to process your application, and the SAA calculated the PIA. The back pay amounts are received in small portions for SSI recipients, unlike the SSDI recipients, who will receive them in one large sum.

Back pay dates

The award letter will also include the dates when you will receive your back pay amounts for SSI recipients. These benefits are usually issued as three separate payments separated by six-month augmentations. The first two payments should not be more than three times the monthly benefits an individual receives. However, the last and third payments do not have such limitations.

For SSDI recipients, your back pay dates are usually set after 60 days of your back pay amounts being approved.

Amounts owed to representatives

If there is a representative mentioned in the disability benefits application, then there is an amount they are entitled to receive. The award letter will contain such a section, and the SAA must fill out the required information.


If you have a lawyer as your representative, they are entitled to 25% of your back pay. They should, however, not receive more than $6000.

It is not a must for you to appoint a representative who will receive and manage your benefits. However, if you mentioned a representative in your application, they have the legal and ethical responsibility to manage your benefit payments and receive a certain percentage. In addition, they are required to fill out a yearly report for SAA meant to track how the benefits are being used to ensure that they reach the approved recipient.

Taxability of your benefits

Depending on the benefit payments you have received, your award letter will highlight the taxes that must be deducted from the amount approved for you by the SAA. This is because SSI benefits are funded by taxpayers and are, therefore, not taxed, unlike SSDI benefits, which must be taxed. 

However, if your SSDI benefits are below $25,000 for single individuals and $32,000 for married couples (who have filed jointly), then you are not liable for taxation. On the other hand, those single individuals or married couples receiving more than the mentioned amount will have to pay 50% of their income tax. In most cases, receiving a lump sum of money from back pay amounts usually increases the income and may lead to taxation.

Social Security Award Letter Template

Here is an award template you can use as a guide to know what is expected in a valid and complete award letter from the SAA.

Social Security Administration


Claim number (xxx)

(Full Official Name)



(Phone number)


This is to inform (full name) of (age) whose birth date is (birth date info) that you have been approved for the disability benefits. You will receive SSI (Supplemental Security Insurance) from the Social Security Department. Mention the conditions that are attributed to the approval.

Mention the benefits amounts, the expected monthly payment dates, the back pay amounts, the back pay dates and the amount to be paid to representatives (if any) in the application. Also, include the taxes on the received benefits.

For further questions or more information, (provide instructions and details that the recipient of the letter can use to communicate).

In case you call or visit your local office for help from the Social Security Administration, ensure you have this letter with you.

Social Security Award Letter Sample

The following is an award letter sample that can be used as an example and reference point to understand the content or information found in an SS award letter.


RE: Social Security Benefit Award Notice

Dear Mr. Doe,

We are pleased to inform you that your application for Social Security benefits has been approved. Your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) was calculated based on your earnings record. Your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME) were determined by selecting the years of your highest income. The PIA calculation includes 90% of AIME up to $960, 32% of AIME over $960 and below $5,785, and 15% of the remaining AIME. Consequently, your monthly benefit amount has been set at $1,250.

Your monthly benefits will commence on January 15, 20XX, and will be disbursed on the 15th of each subsequent month. Regarding back pay amounts, you are entitled to $3,750, representing the benefits owed to you during the processing period of your application.

For SSI recipients, back pay payments will be issued in three installments, spaced six months apart, with the first two payments not exceeding three times your monthly benefit amount. The third payment will not have this limit. As an SSDI recipient, your back pay will be issued on February 20, 20XX.

If you have appointed a representative, such as a lawyer, they are entitled to receive 25% of your back pay, not exceeding $6,000. In your case, Jane Smith, Esq., will receive $937.50 as the appointed representative.

Please be aware that SSI benefits are not subject to taxation. However, SSDI benefits are taxable if your income exceeds $25,000 (single) or $32,000 (married filing jointly). You may be liable to pay taxes on up to 50% of your benefit amount.

Should you have any questions or require further assistance, feel free to contact our office at (555) 123-4567 or email us at

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Emily R. Johnson

District Manager

Social Security Administration


This Social Security Award Letter exemplifies clear communication in conveying complex financial details. Its structure is straightforward, starting with the recipient’s information, leading into the core message, and ending with contact details, ensuring ease of understanding. The transparency in explaining how benefits are calculated, including the Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) and Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME), is particularly informative. This clarity helps recipients plan financially, as it covers precise benefit amounts and representative fees.

The letter effectively outlines the payment schedule and back pay distribution, which are crucial for recipients to manage their expectations and finances. It also addresses fees for legal representatives, providing transparency about deductions from the recipient’s benefits. This inclusion is essential for setting clear financial expectations.

Furthermore, the letter’s mention of tax implications for SSI and SSDI benefits aids in financial planning. The availability of direct contact information for assistance enhances its user-friendliness. Maintaining a professional and courteous tone throughout, the letter serves as a model for communicating complex information respectfully and helpfully.

Points to Remember

  • Create a broad outline appropriate for most award letters you anticipate writing; this will allow you to draft an award letter with minimal alterations quickly.
  • If you have created a template with spaces to input data later, take a moment to ensure the formatting is correct. Unusual spacing and text fonts that don’t match will make it evident to the recipient that a prebuilt letter was used.
  • Pay attention to the tone of your award letter. It is easy to default to cold, business-like wording, but a little attention to tone will significantly affect receiving the letter.
  • Clear and concise language reigns supreme. An award letter should not be a mere statement of facts or overly verbose but somewhere between the two extremes.

How do I Get a Copy of an SSAL?

If you need to replace your original SS award letter, you can get a copy by calling the Social Security Department at 800-772-1213. If you fail to find a copy, then the SAA can offer you an official letter containing all the details you need regarding your disability benefits.

Usually, the letter is delivered to the applicant through mail to save them the trouble of requesting a copy. An applicant can also call the SAA to check on the status of their application or get any critical information about the decision made regarding the application. A copy of the letter is usually mailed to the address related to the social security number, which means that no one else can receive your letter.

Also, you can get more copies of your letter by visiting the “My Social Security” account portal from SSA online. A copy of the letter accessed online is the budget letter, benefits letter, proof of income letter, or award letter. If the benefits you applied for are entirely for disability, the letter will be referred to as a disability award letter. Ensure you keep a copy of your letter safe for future use.

Final Remarks

A Social Security award letter is a document containing details regarding the disability benefits received from the SAA. People who can apply for these social security monthly payments include people with disabling conditions, those with little to no income, those who are retiring, and even those who have to stay away from work for about one year due to certain conditions.
An applicant will receive this award letter if approved for either SSI or SSDI. The information in the award letter is essential, which means that an applicant must keep their copy safe. The components found in the example used to prepare the SSAL include the benefit amount, monthly payment dates, back pay amounts, back pay dates, amount to be paid to representatives, and taxes related to the received benefits.

About This Article

William Lehr
Authored by:
Human Resources Specialist, MS Office Expert
William Lehr combines a profound understanding of human resources with a certified expertise in Microsoft Office, making him a dual asset in any professional setting. With a keen insight into the intricacies of HR, William adeptly manages talent acquisition, employee relations, and organizational development. His Microsoft Office proficiency further amplifies his effectiveness, allowing him to design and implement seamless workflows, reports, and analytical tools. Whether it's optimizing HR processes or crafting efficient MS Office solutions, William's comprehensive skill set ensures that organizational objectives are met with precision and excellence.

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