Most Social Security Disability benefits applicants are all too familiar with the long approval process involved in obtaining your benefits. What some may not realize is that they may qualify for Back Pay.
If you are not familiar with “Back Pay” it refers to the benefits you would have received had your claim been approved immediately.
Since most claims are denied one or more times before the claimant is approved for benefits, the Social Security application process is usually lengthy, and months or years can go by while waiting for approval. You will receive your accrued Back Pay after you are approved for SSDI or SSI benefits.
How Is Back Pay Determined?
Back Pay is determined in relation to the date you filed your disability claim and the date that the Social Security Administration (SSA) decides that your disability began, also known as the “established onset date.”
There is a 12-month maximum on back pay benefits, however the maximum benefit does take into account the 5-month mandatory wait period for all SSDI claims. The established onset date is determined by a DDS examiner or an administrative law judge, based on your available medical records.
In the rare occasion your application is approved immediately (within the first five months) then your benefits will begin on month six and you won’t qualify for backpay as this is a fast as the system works.
In most cases a SSDI application approval takes longer than five months, so approved applicants can expect to receive back pay.
Here is an example that may help explain the process better. If your claim is approved 12 months after your established onset date, you would qualify for seven months of back pay. The standard 5 months processing time is subtracted from the total 12-month approval process.
In the case that your SSDI approval takes 18 months or longer, you would only qualify for the 12-month maximum allowable back pay.
When Will I Receive Back Pay?
Back Pay can be received as a lump sum, but when that lump sum will arrive is rather unpredictable. In some instances, back pay can be deposited into your account before you’re even aware that your disability claim has been approved.
The benefits you receive may also be adjusted if your Back Pay is deposited first. Your SSDI will count as income, therefore if you receive both SSDI and SSI your SSI benefits will automatically be reduced to take into consideration your Back Pay income.
As you can see this is not a cookie cutter process so we recommend acquiring a qualified Social Security Disability attorney. They can provide help in establishing a favorable onset date so that you are awarded the most back pay and benefits for your situation.