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
If I Am Determined Disabled, How Far Back Will Social Security Pay Benefits?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
How far back Social Security will pay disability benefits to a disabled person is determined by the date you filed your disability claim when applying for Social Security and/or SSI disability.
Back Pay and Social Security Disability applicants
Social Security disability applicants may be eligible for disability benefits for twelve months prior to the date of filing for disability--these are known as retroactive benefits--provided they have been unable to work at a substantial level for at least seventeen months prior to filing.
Why seventeen months? Social Security has a five-month waiting period that applies to social security disability claims for which they never pay disability benefits. Basically, the date of filing determines what month you are first entitled to begin receiving monthly Social Security disability benefits.
Back Pay and Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, applicants
SSI disability applicants are first entitled to monthly disability benefits for the month in which they filed for disability--provided, of course, that they meet the income and resource requirements of the SSI program and provided also that their medical evidence supports a "disability onset date" (the onset date is when the claimant became disabled) at least as far back as their date of their disability application, or date of filing for SSI disability.
Note: For SSI disability, there is no five-month waiting period which effectively confiscates a social security disability applicant's first five months of benefits; by the same token, though, there are no disability benefits payable for any time prior to the filing date of their disability application, i.e. there are no retroactive benefits in the SSI program.
Special Note: Please keep in mind that "retroactive benefits" and "back pay" are not the same thing. Retroactive benefits are those that may be payable for the time before a person has even filed for disability. Retroactive benefits, as previously mentioned, only pertain to the social security disability program.
Back pay is completely different. Back pay pertains to both the SSI and social security disability programs. Back pay, or past due benefits, are simply those benefits that are due to the claimant as a result of A) What date their disability is considered to have begun (as established by the medical records) and B) How long it has taken to process their disability claim.
A good example of "B" is a person who has had to take their case before a federal administrative law judge and, thus, has had their claim in the system for three years or more; such a person would likely be owed a significant amount of back pay due to how long their case has been pending from the time after filing a claim.
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions