The Maximum Disability Back Pay

What is the maximum back pay you can get for Social Security Disability?

by Tim Moore, Disability Representative in North Carolina

We have two different answers to this question. The first answer is the short answer and the short answer to the question is that the most you can get in back pay benefits will be determined by A) how much you paid into the Social Security system during your working years, B) when you filed for disability, C) how far back Social Security determined that your disability began, and D) how long it took to get your claim approved.


1. How Far Back Can SSI Back Pay Be Paid?
2. When can I expect my first disability check and my back pay check?
3. Do you always get disability back payments from social security?
4. Social Security Disability Lawyers and 21% Back Pay

Here’s the longer answer to the question:

There are four factors that affect the disability back payment amounts for Social Security Disability beneficiaries.

Factor 1

The first factor that affects your Security back pay is your date of filing. The date of filing establishes any potential retroactive disability benefits payable if any are due. If you have not been able to perform substantial work activity for seventeen months or more prior to your filing date you maybe entitled to twelve months retroactive disability benefits–provided your medical evidence substantiates that you were disabled at that time.

Even if you are not entitled to twelve months of retroactive benefits, you still may eligible to receive some months of retroactive disability benefits depending upon when you stopped work prior to filing for disability.

Factor 2

The second factor in determining the amount of your Social Security Disability back payment is your established date of onset. The date of onset is A) when Social Security determines you were not working at a substantial work level and B) your medical evidence supports a finding of disability.

How does this affect your back payment? If you allege you have not been able to work for seventeen months due to your medical or mental impairment, but Social Security can only find medical evidence to support your allegation of disability for the month that you filed, then your established onset date will be the date that you filed your application. This means you have no back payment. This brings us to an important third factor.

Factor 3

The third factor is the Social Security Disability five month waiting period. All Social Security Disability beneficiaries have a five month waiting period that begins with the month following the date of onset…unless the date of onset is the first day of the month. The waiting period lasts for a full five months with entitlement to disability benefits beginning in the sixth month.

Factor 4

The fourth and most important factor that affects the amount of a disability beneficiary’s back payment amount is the month of entitlement and it is determined by the previous three factors. The month of entitlement is the first month you are eligible to receive a monthly monetary disability benefit. All disability back payment awards begin with the month of entitlement and end with the month prior to the adjudication of your disability claim.

Disability back payment amounts become significant when you have to go to an administrative law judge disability hearing. Social Security hearings offices have significant backlogs of administrative law judge hearings; sometimes it takes months or even years to get a disability hearing.

No matter when your disability claim is approved, the date of entitlement determines how far back disability benefits must be paid. Social Security is routinely paying back payments that amount to thousands of dollars.