What is Social Security Disability Back Pay?

What if you can’t apply for Social Security right away when you become disabled? What if your application takes a long time? You may qualify to receive Social Security Disability back pay.

Our SSDI lawyers in Phoenix at Pekas Smith Disability Attorneys explain Social Security Disability back pay.

About Social Security Disability Back Pay

Social Security Disability back pay is a payment that you may receive for a period where you are disabled but before you file an application for SSDI benefits. It may also cover a period where your application for disability benefits is pending.

When Can You Get Social Security Disability Back Pay?

You can get Social Security Disability back pay when you are disabled, both before you file for benefits and while you are waiting for your application to be processed.

Established Onset Date

The Established Onset Date (EOD) is the date that a person becomes disabled. Disability benefits may begin the sixth month after a person’s EOD. Back pay may be awarded for up to 12 months. There is a five-month waiting period, so back pay doesn’t begin until the first full month after the five-month waiting period.

Pending application period

It’s common for an SSDI application to take several months. A person may receive back pay for a period while their application is pending. Most applications are processed within six months.

It’s unusual for a case to take significantly longer than that unless your case proceeds to a hearing or appeal.

How is Social Security Disability Back Pay Calculated?

Social Security Disability back pay is paid at the rate the person qualifies to receive disability benefits. Only full months count for the calculation of backpay. If the person applies on the first of the month, the month counts. If they apply any other day, it’s the next month that counts for the calculation of back pay.

What is the maximum back pay for SSDI?

The maximum backpay for SSDI is 12 months of back pay plus the period the application is pending. Even if a person is disabled for a longer period before applying, the maximum that SSDI will pay retroactively is 12 months.

CFR § 404.621 is the law for Social Security Disability back pay. It discusses what happens when someone files for SSDI benefits after the first full month they qualify for benefits. The law says that a person entitled to benefits at least one full month before they receive them may qualify for up to 12 months of retroactive pay.

Remember, the five-month waiting period may be subtracted from the months of retroactive pay. 

There are exceptions to the waiting period.

Examples of Social Security Disability Back Pay

Let’s look at a couple of examples.

Example 1

A person has been disabled for seven months before applying for benefits. They apply on the 15th of the seventh month of disability. There are six full months where the person has been disabled, but a five-month waiting period applies. That leaves one full month of disability before the application is filed after deducting the waiting period. The applicant may receive one month of back pay in addition to any period while their application is pending.

Example 2

The applicant has been disabled for two months before filing for disability. Because of the five-month waiting period, the applicant can’t receive any back pay for the period before applying. The application takes six months to process. They may receive back pay for three months between filing the application and its approval. The three months represent the full months between the onset of disability minus the five-month waiting period.

Example 3

A person has been disabled for 24 months before they apply for SSDI benefits. Their application is pending for four months before it is approved – a total of 28 months. The maximum that a person can receive back pay is 12 months. Even with the five-month waiting period, the person may still receive 12 months of retroactive pay because they were disabled for more than 17 months before they applied. The person receives back pay for 12 months plus the four months the application was pending, for a total of 16 months of back pay.

Disability back pay calculations are based on the full month

Remember that back pay is calculated by full months. If you apply on any day after the first of the month, the month doesn’t count in the waiting period or for benefits.

Income earned may be deducted

If you qualify for Social Security Disability back pay, income that you receive during the back pay period may be deducted.

How is Social Security Disability back pay paid?

Social Security Disability back pay is paid as a lump sum. It may be paid separately from monthly pay.

How can I get my SSDI back faster?

To get your SSDI backpay faster, make sure that your SSDI application is complete. The sooner your application is processed and approved, the sooner you receive your back pay. Make sure that your personal information, medical records, and employment history are complete. Respond to any requests for more information.

Getting Help from a Lawyer

Social Security Disability back pay can be a significant part of your disability compensation. It’s important to have the benefits that you have earned in full. There are several ways that a lawyer can assist you. They may assist you with proving your effective onset date. You will state an alleged onset date (AOD) with your application, and your lawyer can help you provide the evidence to establish the date you became disabled.

In addition, a lawyer can help you determine if back pay has been calculated correctly. They can help you understand how your retroactive pay should be awarded. They can protect your rights to claim the benefits that you deserve.

Talk to a Disability Lawyer at a Consultation

If you have questions about Social Security Disability retroactive pay, we invite you to talk to the Pekas Smith Disability Attorneys in Arizona.

For a consultation about your specific situation, call 602.962.2818 or message us today. See how legal representation can help you. Start your case today.

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