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How far back will the SSA pay my SSD benefits?

Many claimants have been disabled for years. Many want to know how far back they will get paid. If you are approved for either Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), your retroactive payments will be determined by several factors.

1. When did you apply for SSDI or SSI?

For Supplemental Security Income you can receive SSI benefits back to the first day of the month following the date of your SSI application.

For Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you can receive benefits 12 months prior to the date of the application, minus a five month waiting period.

2. When did you become disabled?

How do you know when you became disabled? The Social Security Administration uses your established onset date or EOD to determine when you became disabled. The onset date is generally the date that you were unable to work at a “substantial level” due to your physical or mental health condition. How does the SSA decide this date? Either the Administrative Law Judge or the Disability Determination Service Examiner will determine this date after reviewing your medical records.

So how does the EOD affect your SSDI benefits? When you complete your SSDI application you will list your alleged onset date (AOD). After you are approved for SSDI benefits the SSA will give you and EOD or established onset date. As mentioned above, this is determined by your medical records.

As mentioned in step 1, you may be eligible for retroactive payments back 12 months prior to the application date (less the 5 month waiting period) but whether or not the SSA pays benefits for this entire retroactive period will depend on the EOD for your SSDI claim.

Another consideration is whether or not the established onset date is more than a year prior to the application date. For instance, if the Administrative Law Judge determines your established onset date is 17 months prior to the SSDI application date, you may be entitled to the full 12 months of retroactive SSDI benefits.

For Supplemental Security Income, you do not receive any back pay prior to SSI application date, regardless of your EOD date.

Here is an Example for SSDI:

Claimant A filed their disability application the day they stopped working at a substantial level. The SSA decided their EOD or established onset date was that same day. Claimant A would most likely not receive any retroactive disability benefits; in fact, they would have to wait for the 5 month waiting period.

Claimant B stopped working at a substantial level 2 years before they filed their SSDI application. The SSA determined their EOD date occurred when they stopped working. This claimant would be entitled to the full 12 months of retroactive SSDI benefits.

Will I get Back Pay?

Back pay should not be confused with retroactive pay. Although SSDI benefits will only pay 12 months of retroactive payments and SSI only pays retroactive payments back to the claimant’s application date, almost all claimants will get some back pay.

Back pay is generally paid because it can take the SSA months or years to process a claimant’s disability claim. What if you are entitled to back pay, how will it be paid? SSDI back pay benefits are usually paid in a single lump sum. SSI back pay benefits are generally paid in a lump sum if they are less than $6,000 but may be paid in several installment payments if they are more. Installment payments may be required for the claimant to remain under the resource and income limits established by the SSA for the SSI program.