Social Security disability back pay is the money you missed out on while the Social Security Administration (SSA) was considering your claim.

How Much Back Pay Can I Recover?

How much back pay you can recover depends on how long it took for the SSA to accept your application. This might be a couple months’ worth of payments if you receive an initial approval; however, if you receive a denial letter, it may take several months for the SSA to reconsider its decision. If the SSA upholds the denial, several more months may pass before you attend your hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

During this time, your back pay will continue to accumulate. If you do not fight to recover these payments, you could miss out on hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

What Role Does My Application Date Play in Determining Social Security Disability Back Pay?

The date you filed your initial Social Security disability application is the date that begins the back pay period in most cases.

For example, if you applied for benefits on June 1, 2016 but did not receive approval until June 1, 2017, you are eligible for benefits for that year. However, the amount of back pay you can receive is subject to your Established Onset Date.  

What Is an Established Onset Date (EOD)?

When you file an application for benefits, you need to state the date on which your condition became disabling, known as an alleged onset date (AOD). If the SSA agrees with you on this date, it will become your established onset date.

Your EOD may match up with the date you put on your application, or it may not. This date determines the amount of back pay and retroactive benefits (discussed later) you can receive.

Your EOD can also work against you, though. Sometimes during the course of an appeal, a Social Security examiner, ALJ, the Court of Appeals, or a federal judge decides your level of disability increased enough to qualify you for benefits when you did not previously qualify. This may occur if your condition worsens or if you failed to provide adequate evidence of your disability previously.

When this happens, it will assign you an EOD after your date of application. If this occurs, you only receive back pay dating back to that EOD. This significantly reduces back pay for many people.

What Do I Need to Know About the Waiting Period for Benefits?

The SSA has a waiting period for disability benefits. Designed to prevent those who recover quickly after an injury or illness from having to pay back overpaid benefits, this waiting period covers the first five months after your EOD. If you applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, your benefits will never begin before five months have elapsed since your EOD.

For example, say you applied for SSDI. Your EOD was in June but did not receive approval until February. Because of the waiting period, the check would only cover benefits for three months.

If you applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you are not subject to this waiting period. This means you can recover back pay all the way back to your EOD.

Can I Receive Payment for the Time I Was Disabled Before I Applied for Benefits?

You may also receive back pay for retroactive benefits. This occurs if you waited a few months to apply for Social Security disability benefits. Retroactive benefits cover the time between when you first suffered a disabling injury or illness and when you actually filed for benefits. You can receive a maximum of 12 months’ retroactive back pay.

Remember that your retroactive benefits will be subject to the five-month waiting period. SSI applicants are not eligible for retroactive benefits.

When Will I Receive My Back Pay?

Unfortunately, it is difficult to predict when you will receive your back pay. From the fifth month after the EOD, a person who qualifies for Social Security disability benefits should receive a monthly payment from the SSA.

The SSA will either award your back pay as a lump sum or several smaller payments depending on the amount of the award and the type of benefit. This often takes several months to process, and many people receive three or more monthly payments before they see their back pay. If it has been more than six months, you may want to call your local Social Security office or talk to your lawyer about when you can expect your payment.

Call Today for a Free Consultation with a Social Security Disability Attorney

Recovering the back pay you deserve is often more difficult than it should be. The Disability Advantage Group can help. Call our office today at 865-566-0800 to schedule a free, initial consultation with one of our Social Security disability lawyers.

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