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 much Disability Back Pay will you get?
What is Social Security back pay? Back pay means just that, the back payment of disability benefits to individuals who have months of entitlement to Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in the past.
How far back a Social Security Disability applicant will receive payment depends upon three factors.
Date of Application
The date you file a disability application is the first factor that affects the amount of your disability back payment. Social Security Disability allows for a retroactive payment of disability benefits for the twelve months before you actually applied for disability, i.e. prior to the application date. This, of course, is provided you have been unable to work due to your condition.
This means--you could receive A) retroactive benefits for some months prior to their filing date and B) a full twelve months of retroactive disability benefits if your have been unable to work at a substantial level for seventeen months or more.
Date of Onset
The second factor that affects Social Security back pay is the date of onset. The date of onset is the date a person became unable to work at a substantial work activity level, known as SGA, because of a physical or mental impairment.
What is substantial gainful activity? This is working and earning more than a certain amount. It is equal to a monthly amount of gross wage earnings -- basically, it is an income limit for disability benefits that is determined by social security each year and to be considered disabled you cannot earn more than this amount. Here is the current SGA amount.
The third factor is what establishes the month of entitlement for disability benefits and the amount of retroactive disability payments.
The Five Month Waiting Period
The Social Security Disability waiting period is called a "waiting period". But it does not always necessarily make an approved claimant actually wait five months before receiving disability benefits. It does, however, effectively confiscate their first five months of benefits. Which is why a Social Security Disability beneficiary can only receive a maximum twelve months of retroactive disability benefits if they have an established disability onset date that is seventeen months in the past.
Due to how long most cases drag on throughout the appeal process, of course, many claimants are never affected by the waiting period. In other words, so much time has passed from the moment they originally filed for disability and the time that they were approved that the waiting period has been concluded.
This is often dependent, of course, on how far back the claimant's disability is considered to have begun (onset date), according to the medical evidence. And here we should mention that this is one of the chief benefits of representation at the disability hearing level since a qualified disability attorney or disability representative will attempt to establish the earliest and most favorable onset date possible, and obtain evidence to support this.
How much Back Pay will you receive?
The amount of a Social Security back payment can be substantial if a claimant has to appeal their disability case to an administrative law judge. Since there are significant hearing backlogs at most disability hearings offices across the county, Social Security Disability beneficiaries are often entitled to large disability back payments by the time they are approved by a judge.
Since all back payments begin with the month of entitlement to disability benefits, if a beneficiary has twelve months of retroactive disability benefits and it takes a year or more to get to their hearing, they could be looking at at least twenty-four months of disability benefit back pay.
SSD versus SSI
There are differences between the Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income disability programs that affect back payment of disability benefits.
For instance, SSI disability beneficiaries are not entitled to any kind of retroactive disability benefits. Their disability entitlement date can be no earlier than the date they filed their disability application; thus, no retroactivity.
However, they are also not subject to any kind of waiting period like Social Security Disability beneficiaries. It does not matter when they are approved for disability benefits, they will receive disability benefits back to the date they filed their disability claim.
By contrast, Social Security Disability beneficiaries will always be subject to a five month waiting period; though, as was mentioned, many, if not most, claimants do not actually have to endure a waiting period before their monthly benefits begin to arrive.
Note: Claimants 1. who are approved on their initial claim, i.e. disability application and 2. who can only prove that their disability began very recently will be more likely to actually wait five months before receiving benefits because not much time has accrued on their case through the filing of appeals.
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?
What is the maximum back pay you can get for Social Security Disability?
What is Social Security Disability Back Pay?
How Far Back Can SSI Back Pay Be Paid?
When can I expect my first disability check and my back pay check?
How does back pay for Social Security Disability work?
If I Am Determined Disabled, How Far Back Will Social Security Pay Benefits?
Does Social Security Hold Back The First five Months Of Back Pay?
Social Security Disability SSI - Retroactive Benefits Vs Back Pay Benefits
Do you always get disability back payments from social security?
Social Security Disability Lawyers and 21% Back Pay
How much can you receive in disability backpay in North Carolina?
Why do you receive a Social Security Disability benefit back payment?
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
Permanent Social Security Disability
What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?
Who is eligible for SSI disability?
Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?
What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
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.