Social Security Disability and SSI Questions and Answers
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
More questions about SSD and SSI
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
How far back are Social Security disability benefits awarded on an appeal?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
If you file an initial claim for disability (an initial claim is simply another way of saying an application for disability) and your case is approved, then the following will occur. The disability examiner will, after reviewing your medical records, determine your EOD, or established date of onset. This date will be when, in the opinion of the social security administration, your state of disability is considered to have begun.
Does this established onset date truly determine how far back your disability benefits can be paid? Potentially. The issue can get confusing because there are fundamental differences between the social security disability and SSI disability programs.
And there can also be significant differences between claim approvals that occur at the application level or reconsideration appeal level, and claim approvals that occur at the disability hearing level.
Regarding the differences between SSD and SSI, we should point out that, in the case of SSI, benefits can be paid all the way back to the time that the disability application was filed.
In the case of SSD, benefits can also be paid all the back to the time that the claim was filed, but potentially twelve months retroactive to this date as well, assuming, of course, that the medical evidence will support a disability onset date that far back.
Now, how can things occur differently at a disability hearing versus an initial claim or reconsideration appeal? To a great degree, things occur very much the same at the hearing level. As at the earlier levels of the system, both medical evidence and work activity will be used to determine if the claimant has the ability to return to their past work or perform some type of other work while earning a substantial and gainful income.
However, one of the great differences between hearings and the lower levels of the system is that administrative law judges who approve claims can decide to reopen prior denials...for those individuals who have had the misfortune of being denied on multiple and separate claims.
A reopening occurs if it is found that the medical evidence indicates that the claimant was actually disabled at the time that they were previously denied (i.e. they were improperly denied). And reopening an earlier case, of course, can pave the way for significantly larger awards of disability back pay.
Suffice it to say, back pay amounts can cover very long periods of time. And the longer a case goes on, such as when multiple appeals have been filed, the greater the amount of back pay that may be received. And this is why individuals who are filing for disability benefits should be very careful that they do the following:
1. When submitting a disability claim to the social security administration, be sure to indicate all known physical and mental impairments, when those impairments began, and when they became disabling to the extent that work activity was significantly affected, either reducing it or preventing it altogether.
2. Be sure to supply detailed information about your medical records and history of treatment. Many applicants for social security disability and SSI realize that an awarding of benefits will be based on a determination that involves current medical records.
They may not, however, realize how important older medical records are for establishing "onset", which can determine how much back pay is awarded. And in cases where a claimant's DLI, or date last insured, is in the past (meaning that their coverage for title II social security disability benefits is time-limited and finite), proving the existence of a disability as far back back as possible can not only affect a back payment calculation, but whether or not disability benefits will even be awarded.
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions