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 award 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 social security 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 the disability benefits is not accepted, you can appeal. In this case, it will take more than three months to receive this award 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 retiring (65 years old and above). The basic needs, in this case, include food, clothing, and shelter.

Note: 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 to 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 lead to death or force them to stay away from work for one year.  

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

Understanding SSAL

Some essential components must be present in a social security award letter. Here are some of the most important contents found in this award 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 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. For example, applying for SSDI will lead to a mandatory 5-month wait before setting the monthly payment dates.

Note: 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 case of SSI or SSDI, through your bank accounts if the application process for the disability benefits took too long to process. The award letter will contain the back pay amounts 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 PIA. The back pay amounts are received in small portions for SSI recipients, unlike the SSDI recipients who will receive it 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 payment does not have such limitation.

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.

For example, 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 social security 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 the 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 50% of their income tax. In most cases, receiving the lump sum of money from back pay amounts usually increases the income and may lead to taxation.

Social Security Award Letter Example

Here is an award example you can use as a guide to know what is expected in a valid and complete social security 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 the SSI (Supplemental Security Insurance) from the Social Security Department. Mention the conditions that 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 in relation to the received benefits.

For further questions or more information, (provide instructions and details 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 Administration

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 a social security award letter.

Social Security Administration

14th January 2021

Claim number (039)

Percy Amazing

10-123, Bracco Street

Anywhere, Anytown


[email protected]

This letter is in regards to your approval for the disability benefits. The recipient of this letter, Percy Amazing, of 65 years whose birth date is 20th October, 1956, has been approved for the SSI (Supplemental Security Insurance) from the Social Security Department.

You are meant to receive $1154.07 on a regular monthly basis. The date meant for you to collect your monthly disability benefits is scheduled on the 5th of every month. Your total pay back amount is $6,759 scheduled to be received in three payments.

The first payment of $796 is scheduled for 15th of next month, February, while the second payment of $1981expected after 6 months on 15th of August. The third payment of $3982 will be expected after another 6 months on 15th February of next year.

For further questions or any more inquires you can contact us on 1-800-772-1213 or send mail to the address below:

Social Security

(Full Address)

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 Administration

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 award 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 to Get a Copy of an SSAL?

If you need to replace your original social security 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 award 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 award letter is usually mailed to the address related to the social security number, which means that no one else can receive your award letter.

Also, you can get more copies of your social security award letter by visiting the “My Social Security” account portal from SSA online. A copy of the award 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 the 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 this 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 social security award letter include benefit amount, monthly payment dates, back pay amounts, back pay dates, amount to be paid to representatives, and taxes related to the received benefits.

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