How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

How do you get the most in Social Security Disability or SSI back pay?

Before we get into a discussion of back pay, let’s address the main question up front: How do you get the most back pay? By proving that your medical disability began as far back as you can possibly prove it.

That, of course, is a matter of medical records. Medical records serve two purposes: They prove that a person is currently disabled. They also prove when the disability began. Which directly impacts back pay.

Now, how does back pay work?

Generally, you do not have any real control over the amount of your disability back pay. How is back pay determined? It starts with when you filed your claim. Date of application is the first factor for SSI and SSD disability claims.

However, to answer the question of why so many people get very large sums in backpay, we should point out that your back pay is generally increased by the length of time it takes for your disability claim to be approved.

When disability claims take over a year or more, due to processing times and the need for appeals, the past due amount owed can become quite large.

Back pay and SSI disability claims

When a claim is for SSI only, then back pay can only go back to the date of application. So, the medical records need to prove that you were disabled at least as far back as when you filed for disability in order to give you the most in SSI benefits.

Back pay and SSD disability claims

For SSD claims, back pay goes back to the date of application, but can also potentially go back 12 months before this date. These are called retroactive months.

Note: SSD claims are subject to a five month waiting period. Usually, this does not mean “waiting” at all. It just means that SSA will take your first five months of benefits from you.

So…if your disability claim is approved at the initial level, you may receive up to 12 months of retroactive benefits along with additional back pay months. If you were not performing SGA—which means you were not working and earning more than the allowable amount--for 17 months prior to the date you filed your disability claim, you will receive 12 retroactive months.

Of course, while there is a maximum of 12 months for retroactive back pay, you could also be eligible for a lesser amount. And, as we said, in addition to retroactive months you are entitled to receive benefits for any months accrued prior to your approval.

Again, why are some back payments so large when people are approved? Well, if you are not approved with your initial disability claim, the back payment of benefits will continue to grow provided you use the Social Security Disability appeal process.

Actually, sometimes it may be better to have a small back pay or no back pay at all provided you are approved for monthly disability benefits. Why is this? Because large backpay amounts are based on a lot of waiting. If you are approved sooner than later, it may mean that you have to endure much less financial hardship.

Still, if you are unable to be approved for disability with your initial claim, it is good to know that there is the possibility of a large back payment in the future.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

How Far Back Will Social Security Pay Benefits?
The Social Security Disability Appeal Process
Social Security Disability and SSI Appeal Process
Will I be approved for disability on my appeal?
If you apply for disability in Alabama
Will I qualify for disability Alabama
What Are the Chances of Winning an SSA Disability Appeal?
How Long Are You Given To Appeal a Disability Denial?

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

Do I need an attorney to win disability?
How Long Does It Take To Go Before A Judge For Disability?
Will a Judge give you an Immediate Decision at the Disability Hearing?
What happens when you go to a disability hearing?
Social Security Disability SSI and Medical conditions
Social Security Disability lawyer fee
Can a lawyer or attorney speed up my disability case?
When can I expect my first disability check and my back pay check?
Going to a medical exam for Social Security Disability or SSI
Filing for disability - How to file the disability application
Do you need a lawyer to file for disability?
How Far Back Can SSI Back Pay Be Paid?
Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
The Social Security Disability Award Letter
Social Security Disability SSI Eligibility Requirements
How Many Times Will you be denied before You Get Approved for Disability?
What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?
How to Prove disability and qualify to win benefits
How to speed up the disability process
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes
What should you say if you go to a Social Security Exam?
Maximum back pay you can get from Social Security Disability or SSI
How to qualify for disability
What is the Social Security Disability List of Impairments?
What is considered a disability by Social Security?
How Long Does A Social Security Disability Appeal Take?
How does back pay for Social Security Disability work?
Your Social Security Disability Status
How do you find out if a disability claim has been approved or denied?
How to check Social Security Disability Status
Applying for disability, what medical conditions can you apply for?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
How much does disability pay?
Can I get permanent Social Security Disability or SSI?
How long will it take to get a disability decision letter?
Social Security Disability and SSI Medical Exams
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security Disability?
How Long to get a Disability Hearing decision?
How long to get disability benefits after you receive an award notice?
Social Security Disability and Working
What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?
How To Get Disability Through SSDI or SSI Approved
How Much Income Can A Person Earn If He Draws Social Security Disability?
Partial disability benefits from Social Security
Can I Qualify For Disability for Depression?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.