Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

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.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

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
Social Security Disability and Short Term Disability Benefits
School records for a child SSI disability claim
Does Social Security approve people for drug or alcohol abuse or use?
How long will you get disability after an award notice?
If Social Security sends you to a psychiatrist
How to file for disability in Minnesota
Enough Work Credits For Social Security Disability Benefits?
Memory loss and filing for disability

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | 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 | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

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