Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

How far back are Social Security disability benefits awarded on an appeal?

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 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.

Differences between the hearing and the initial steps

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

Related pages:

How far back are Social Security disability benefits awarded on an appeal?
How long will it take to start getting disability benefits after an award notice?
Receiving a Social Security Disability Award Letter
The SSI Award Letter from Social Security
The Social Security Award Notice after Disability Benefits are Awarded
When Do You Get A Social Security Disability Award Letter And What Does It Say?
The Social Security Disability Five Month Waiting Period
Check Amount on Social Security Disability Award Letter
What conditions do they Award Disability Benefits for?
You Cannot get a Social Security Disability or SSI Award if you don't Provide SSA what they need
How Much Do You Get For Disability If You Are Awarded Benefits?
Does Your Last Job Determine If You Receive A Social Security or SSI Award?
Can Social Security Disability Benefits Be Awarded Quickly?
The Social Security disability award notice process in North Carolina
How is Social Security Disability and SSI Awarded?

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Filing an application for disability, how do I apply