The SSD, Social Security Disability Date of Application

People who approved for benefits.

Most people who file for SSD and SSI are entitled to receive some sort of back pay, because it typically takes months, or even years, to be approved for benefits. Only about 30% of all disability applications are approved, which means that the other 70% must wind their way through the time-consuming appeals process.

Upon approval, Social Security looks back on your medical history and determines how long you have been entitled to benefits before you were actually approved for them, and awards back pay to make up for benefits to which you were entitled to but did not receive while awaiting a final decision in your case.

People who file for SSD benefits are covered under title II of the Social Security Act, and might also be entitled to collect up to 12 months of retroactive benefits. (Those who file for SSI are covered under title 16, and are not entitled to retroactive benefits.) Retroactive benefits are different than back pay in that they cover the time that a claimant's medical records indicate he was disabled, but had not yet filed a claim.

In other words, back pay covers the period from the time you file until the time you are approved. Retroactive benefits, available only to those who qualify for SSD, cover a period of up to a year before the claim was filed (assuming the application is approved).

The important thing for all applicants to remember is that Social Security cannot begin to consider a case until a disability application is filed. After you file, you begin to accrue back pay, an amount that depends on how long it takes for you to be approved for benefits.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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