Is there a cap on back pay for SSI?

There is no cap or limit on SSI disability back pay

There is no cap on SSI disability back pay. If you are approved for SSI disability benefits. it is not unlikely for Social Security to owe you thousands of dollars in back pay. For instance, if your disability claim is not approved until your ALJ hearing the back payment will most likely be extremely large. Social Security Disability hearing wait times are often a year or more and back pay benefits are accumulating all that time.

If you are owed SSI back pay benefits, you may receive a lump sum back payment, Or perhaps the amount of your back payment will require that you be paid in installments. If your back pay is more than three times the maximum SSI monthly benefit amount, your back payment will be paid in installments.

The only exceptions would be if you were only entitled to SSI for the five month SSDI waiting period, or you have a terminal illness that is expected to result in death within twelve months. In both instances, Social Security will release a lump sum payment even if the amount exceeds three times the monthly SSI disability benefit amount.

Generally, your back payment is released in three installments that are six months apart. The first two installment amounts will be three times the maximum monthly SSI benefit amount. Social Security releases the entire remaining back payment in the third installment.

There are exceptions that may allow you to get more of your back payment during the period of the first and second installments if you need money for necessary items or expenses. The extra back pay amounts could be used to buy a home or vehicle. Or, they can be used to pay medical expenses, debts, and arrears in rent or mortgage payments.

Contact your local Social Security office and speak with a SSI claim specialist if you need more of your back payment. If you are making a request for an extra installment, come prepared with documentation as to how the extra money will be spent.

It is important to remember that SSI is a need based program and you have accountability as to how all monies are spent. If you receive an installment, save your receipts so that you can show how the money was spent. SSI eligibility depends on your keeping track of how you spend this money or any other windfall of money. If you are in doubt do not hesitate to request a discussion with an SSI claims specialist.

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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