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Does SSI Pay Back Pay?

If you are disabled and find yourself with limited income and resources, you may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, from Social Security.  SSI is a federal program that provides coverage for people 65 and older through monthly payments, as well as covering people who are blind or have become disabled.

Eligibility for SSI depends largely on two factors: your income and your resources.  Income refers to money you get as wages from a job, other Social Security benefits and any retirement or pension fund payments you receive.  Resources refer to things you own such as real estate, cash on hand, stocks and bonds you own, and money in bank accounts.

SSI benefits can be paid retroactively, going back to the date you originally filed your claim, if approved. If you are approved for this retroactive pay, you will be paid in installments, rather than getting one lump sum check.  Many people have reported they have had payments deposited into their bank accounts even before the official notice they are getting them arrives. Usually, a claimant will receive their first payment around 60 days of approval.

How far back your back pay goes depends mostly on two factors: How long your claim has been pending, and the date determined for the onset, or beginning of your disability. For SSI claims, you will receive installments equal to three months of the maximum SSI benefit you’re due when your claim is processed. Six months from your first installment you are issued another three months’ worth, and at the year mark the final installment is paid.

Although there is a five month waiting period on Social Security Disability Insurance claims, which means that after you’ve been approved the SSA effectively eliminates your first five months of benefits. There is not a waiting period for SSI benefits.

In 2006 President Bush signed the Deficit Reduction Act, requiring that past due SSI benefits that exceed three times the maximum monthly benefit (the federal benefit rate plus the state supplementary payment amount, if it applies) payable to claimants must be paid in up to three installments, six months apart. The law also limits the amount of the first two installments to three times the maximum monthly benefit.  The rest owed to you would be paid in the third installment.

The amounts paid in the installments may be increased in certain cases, such as when an individual has outstanding debt relating to food, shelter, clothing, or has certain medical needs. A qualified and experience Social Security disability attorney can help you make sense of the requirements, and help you get the money you need.

If, for some reason your claim for SSI benefits is rejected, you have 60 days to file an appeal. If you are then approved, the beginning of the back payments will be retroactive to the date you filed your first claim. If you don’t file an appeal within 60 days and refile a claim, the back payments will begin based on the second filing date, discounting the initial filing date altogether.