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 far back can SS back pay be paid?

Back pay is actually a more complex issue than many people would think, due to a variety of accompanying issues, including alleged onset (when you stated on your disability application that you became disabled), established onset (your medical onset date of disability, based on a review of the medical evidence that was gathered in order to evaluate your claim), the five month waiting period, and your date of application.

Essentially, back pay works like this:

For SSI, you can be paid back to the date of your disability application. If you have had to file appeals (most people do), then, chances are, by the time you get approved by a disability judge, about 2-3 years will have passed from the time you filed your initial disability claim. This means, of course, that the social security administration will owe you a substantial amount in back pay.

For Social Security Disability, you can receive back pay back to the time of your disability application and, potentially, even 12 months prior to your original filing date. This is known as retroactive benefits. Retroactive benefits can be won if the medical record proves that your condition existed and was disabling (according to the social security definition of disability) at least twelve months prior to your application.

Is there a maximum amount of SS back pay that you can receive? No, there is no "cap". You simply receive the amount of back pay that the social security administration determines that you are owed, based on A) when you filed, B) when you were approved for disability, and C) when your disability is determined to have begun (i.e. your medical onset, which is determined by what your medical records have to say about your condition).

Note: Claimants who are approved for Social Security Disability (not SSI disability) will be subject to the five month waiting period, meaning that SSA will not pay them the benefits they otherwise would have received in their first five months of medical eligibility. Also, claimants who are approved for either SSD or SSI and have prior applications may potentially have their earlier applications reopened by a judge at a hearing, if the medical record so warrants. When this happens, of course, a claimant's back pay may rise substantially.

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?

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How much does disability pay?
How to file for disability in Louisiana
What a lawyer says at a disability hearing
Question about qualifying for SSI
Social Security Disability SSI and Chronic Pain
Proving Functional Limitations and why this is Important on a Disability Case
Filing for disability and ankylosing spondylitis
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These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

How and why to check Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability back pay
Non medical requirements for disability
Qualifying for disability, SSD SSI
When does social security consider you eligible for disability benefits?
Who qualifies for SSI?
Forms to complete when filing, applying for disability
How long does SSDI and SSI disability take to get?
Filing for disability with Depression
Can You Get Approved For SSI or SSD Benefits with a Mental Condition
How long for a disability judge to make a decision?
While you are in your disability interview
The SSD and SSI definition of disability
Filing for disability with carpal tunnel syndrome
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Can you work if you get a disability check?
Disability application denied
File for disability, the application
How to get disability benefits
Conditions that get approved for disability
How to Appeal a disability claim denial from Social Security

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.