In most cases, disability claimants should be able to receive their back pay, or the first installment thereof, within 60 days of being approved. However, because it can take months to navigate the Social Security Disability (SSD) system and approval process, by this time, many applicants are already facing serious financial hardship and debt. A wait of three to six months from application to approval, barring any hurdles, is common.
If your initial case is denied and you need to appeal to an administrative law judge, your case can be delayed a year or longer before you begin receiving benefits. While it does little to ease the financial strains in the short term, the upside is that, once approved, applicants typically receive past-due benefits dating back to the first full month after the date of application. In some cases, the back pay can be issued retroactively up to 12 months before the date of application.
In some cases, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will begin current monthly payments for SSD benefits awarded, but not back payments, because they need to investigate what, if any, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits you have received.
What is the date of entitlement?
Depending on the type of SSD benefits you are granted, there will be a waiting period of five months from the date of disability until you are entitled to benefits. The date of disability may be up to 12 months prior to applying for benefits. Some benefits kick in as of the date of application, while others are based on the date of disability, with a five-month waiting period.
What is the difference between SSI and SSDI, and how will this affect my back pay?
SSI is a need-based benefits program designed to help those who meet income and resource requirements, above and beyond the medical criteria for establishing disability. If your past-due payments are greater than the value of three months of disability payments, back pay is typically paid in three installments, which are released in six month intervals. The first two typically will not exceed three times the monthly SSI payout and the third will pay back the remaining balance with no limit.
There are some exceptions to installment payments where a claimant may be entitled to receive a lump sum or receive larger installment payments. Per the SSA, these include:
- When an SSI recipient can demonstrate documentation of outstanding debts for food, clothing, and housing or medically-necessary services, medications, supplies, or equipment;
- When the recipient has a medical condition that is expected to result in death within 12 months; or
- When an individual is no longer eligible for SSI as of the date of approval, but only eligible for back pay, and will likely remain ineligible for the coming 12 months.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is not a need-based program, typically offers approved claimants benefits that go back to the date of the application. In some cases, benefits can be awarded for up to an additional 12 months retroactive to the date of the application. Disability benefits typically have a five-month waiting period before they begin, meaning that the SSA will eliminate the payout for the first five months of benefits.
How can I expedite the approval of my disability claim?
The SSA is, unfortunately, facing a large backlog of cases that are pending review, meaning that there may be delays in processing your claim and issuing your back pay. One of the keys to accessing your disability benefits as quickly as possible is avoiding the common mistakes that can lead to negative SSA decisions and delays while appeals to judges are pending. There are many common mistakes claimants make during the process.
Applying for benefits too soon
Disability benefits are designed for claimants whose conditions are expected to last 12 months or longer. If you apply without the required medical documentation or before you can prove long-term disability, it may be assumed your condition will improve before the five-month waiting period ends.
Not providing accurate or sufficient documentation
You should always include in your application sufficient medical documentation to show the severity of your disability and the limitations that it imposes on your ability to work, including specifics like your ability to interact with coworkers or inability to stand for periods in excess of an hour. Likewise, you should not exaggerate your claim, thinking that you need to overstate your case to receive benefits.
Not following medical orders
An SSA examiner will be reviewing your treatment history as well as your claim. If they find that you’ve been acting against medical advice, your claim can be denied.
Not hiring legal counsel for an appeal
If your initial application for disability is denied, a disability attorney who is familiar with the system can help you navigate the steps to have your case properly heard. Many disability attorneys work on contingency, meaning that they only get paid if your claim is approved and their payment is based on your compensation.
The Disability Advantage Group can review your case and provide you with counsel to navigate the SSD application process and keep track of when you will receive your back pay. Call today for a free consultation: 865-566-0800.