If you have applied for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI) you are likely familiar with the long delays that can occur before an application is approved.
In many cases, initial applications are denied and individuals are required to go through an appeal process (which can sometimes result in waiting a year or more before a case is reconsidered).
Thankfully, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides back pay benefits—which can mean thousands of dollars for successful disability applicants.
What is backpay?
SSDI back payments are retroactive payments calculated from the time you first became disabled, also known as the “established onset date” or “EOD”.
When a SSDI application is approved, the Social Security Administration calculates how much monthly payment you would have received if your application was approved on the established onset date (EOD).
How much back pay do I qualify for?
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.
This means your SSDI back pay benefits are reduced by the five-month waiting period.
If your SSDI application is approved within 5 months of your application your monthly benefits will begin on month 6 and you will not be eligible for any back pay benefits (5 month approval process, minus 5 month waiting period).
In most cases a SSDI application approval takes longer than 5 months, so successful applicants can expect to receive substantial back pay.
For example, if your claim is approved 12 months after your established onset date you qualify for 7 months of SSDI back pay (12 month approval process, minus 5 month waiting period).
In the case that your SSDI approval takes 18 months or longer, you would only qualify for the 12-month maximum allowable back pay.
How do I receive back pay benefits?
SSDI back pay benefits are usually paid as one lump sum—which can be of great benefit to SSDI applicants who have been waiting an extended time for an approval.
Back payments are typically issued within the first 60 days of being approved, however it varies. Some individuals report receiving a deposit of their back pay benefits before they even receive an award notice from the Social Security Administration office.
If you are owed back payments and 2-3 months have passed since your application approval we recommend speaking to your SSDI attorney, or contacting the Social Security Administration office.
Important note on the “Established Onset Date” or “EOD”
During the SSDI approval process, an administrative law judge or examiner will have the final approval on determining your established onset date—which directly affects the back pay benefits you qualify to receive.
We recommend consulting with a Social Security Attorney who can provide support in establishing an advantageous onset date so you receive the maximum possible back pay.
Having an attorney generally results in a higher chance of approval and the opportunity to receive more in disability benefits. With so many applications getting initially denied by the Social Security Administration, it can be difficult to get approved on your own.
We hope to help you receive the benefits you deserve!