The Social Security Disability Back Payment Lump Sum

Once again, more bad information from a forum. (Note: there are several pages devoted to the subject of back pay in the menu to the left). Here's the quote:

"Your date of application has nothing to do with any lump sum awarded. It is solely based upon a determination of when you became disabled, plus a waiting period."

The answer given by this poster is partly right, but that, unfortunately, makes it partly wrong. We'll approach the answer to this issue in two ways. First, we'll talk about SSI disability.

SSI and back pay

For SSI disability and back pay, an individual may be paid disability benefits back to the date of their SSI application, and possibly earlier if the claimant filed a prior application (one on which they were denied) and this application is reopened at the time they are approved for benefits (this would ordinarily be done by an administrative law judge at a disability hearing).

For SSI disability, then, the date of application has everything to do with how much a claimant receives as a back payment lump sum. Was the poster completely wrong when they said "based upon a determination of when you became disabled"?

Not completely. An SSI application date will determine how far back a claimant can potentially receive disability backpay. But the established date of onset, defined as when the disability actually began, will determine how far back the benefits can actually go. And, by the way, the five month waiting period does not exist for SSI disability claims.

SSD and back pay

For SSD, or Social Security Disability, a disability claimant may be paid a disability lump sump backpayment as far back as the date of application. And, benefits may potentially be paid up to 12 months retroactive to the date of application if the medical evidence supports an EOD (established date of onset) back this far.

As with SSI disability, this only allows for potential back pay. How far back a claimant's back pay may be decided will, as with SSI, depend on when a claimant's disability is decided to have begun (EOD).

And unlike SSI, with Social Security Disability, there is a five month waiting period (that really should be called an elimination period) that will effectively wipe out five months worth of benefits.

Also, as with SSI, a Social Security Disability claimant who is approved may possibly have an earlier claim reopened and this may account for a greater amount of backpay. However, this does not happen often.

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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