How does Social Security issue back pay on disability benefits?

gov_checkIt can take several months for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to issue a decision on a disability claim. For this reason, nearly every person who is awarded Social Security disability will be owed past due benefits, also called disability “back pay.“

However, the amount of back pay granted to each claimant varies depending on the date used to calculate benefits.

Dates That Affect the Amount of Social Security Disability Retroactive Benefits

Claimants can receive up to 12 months of Social Security disability back pay for the months in which they were waiting for benefits to be paid. After the claim is approved, the full amount of retroactive benefits is issued in one lump sum, with regular monthly benefits continuing as usual.

The number of previous months for which you will be awarded benefits depends on three different but important dates:

  • Date of disability. When the SSA approves an application for benefits, it decides a date on which the claimant's disability began. This is known as the established onset date (EOD), and is determined by a disability examiner using the claimant’s medical records and work history. An EOD can be several months before the application date, greatly affecting the amount of back pay. For this reason, it's not uncommon for a claimant and a disability examiner to disagree on the exact date of disability. A Social Security disability attorney can help by gathering additional medical information and other evidence to prove the claimant wasn't able to perform work.
  • Application date. Claimants can receive benefits back to the date they applied for disability, as long as their medical evidence supports they were disabled on or before this date. If their medical evidence shows they were disabled in the year before applying for benefits, retroactive payments may be granted for the months before the application date.
  • End of the waiting period. Social Security disability benefits have an automatic five-month deduction to allow a reasonable period for benefit processing. In other words, a person isn't entitled to benefits until five months after his or her disability began. For example, let’s say a claimant files an application on December 1 and is given a disability date of January 1 of the same year. Although the claimant has been “officially” disabled for 11 months, he or she will only be entitled to six months of retroactive benefits.

Make the Process Easier With Our Help

As you can imagine, the established date of your disability can have a big impact on the amount of benefits you receive. If you win your disability claim on appeal, you could potentially get back pay for the many months you were forced to live without your rightful benefits.

If you're having trouble collecting rightful payment from Social Security, simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule a consultation with our attorneys at no cost to you.