Social Security Disability Resource Center

Overview | How to Qualify | Applications
Requirements | How long it takes | Back Pay
Mental Disability | What is a disability? | Tips
SSI Benefits | How to Win | Disability Awards
Hearings | Appeals | List of Disabling Conditions

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.

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

  • What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Medical exams for disability claims

    Applying for Disability in various states

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits

    FAQ on Disability Claim Representation

    Disability hearings before Judges

    Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    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

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Applying for Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    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?