How Does Social Security Disability Back Pay Work?

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Posted by Corey Luedeman

If you are seeking Social Security Disability benefits, you probably know that there is a delay in processing Social Security claims. Whether you are approved right away for disability payments or need to go through the appeals process, it takes a while to be ruled disabled by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

This likely means that the SSA owes you some back pay because of this delay in being ruled disabled.  How much you receive in back pay depends on when you filed your application and when you became disabled.  It’s calculated differently for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

How Does Back Pay Work With SSDI Benefits?

If you are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, the period of your back pay will depend on two things:

  1. The date you became disabled, AND
  2. The date you submitted your application for benefits.

The date you became disabled is important because you can receive disability benefits starting in the 6th month after you became disabled.  That means for the first 5 months, you cannot receive any disability benefits through the SSDI program.  Even if you apply immediately after you are disabled and are approved quickly, you will only begin to receive monthly benefits starting the 6th month after you became disabled.

The date you apply for benefits is also important because you can receive SSDI back pay for up to one year prior to your application date.  Here are a couple of examples to explain this:

  1. If you are disabled on January 1, 2018, and you apply for benefits on January 1, 2019, you will get back payments starting the sixth month after you are disabled – from June 1, 2018.
  2. If you are disabled on January 1, 2018, and you apply for benefits on January 1, 2021, you will get back payments starting one year prior – from January 1, 2020.

As you can see, you can lose out on back pay if you don’t apply for SSDI as soon as possible.

How Does Back Pay Work With SSI Benefits?

Calculating back pay is less complicated if you are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  If you are ruled disabled and eligible for SSI, then your back pay can go back to the 1st of the month after you submitted your application.

So, if you are disabled on January 1, 2018, and you apply for benefits on January 1, 2021, you will get back payments starting from January 1, 2021 only.

Receiving Back Disability Payments

If you have been approved for disability and are owed back pay, the SSA will usually provide this back pay in one lump sum (if it is SSDI), deposited directly into your bank account.

If the back pay amount of SSI is more than 3 times what the current maximum monthly SSI amount would be, the SSA will want to pay you in 3 installments – two equal payments and then one payment of the final amount owed.

If you need a large amount of money right away, talk to your Social Security Disability attorney to see if your installments can be adjusted or the whole amount can be paid out.

As you can see, back payment calculation can be a complicated process.  An experienced disability lawyer will be able to help you calculate how much you are owed from the SSA.

If you have been denied disability benefits, we can help.  Call RSH Legal at 1-319-774-1783 and speak with one of our disability attorneys today.

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