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SSDI- How far back will I be paid?

SSDI and retroactive payments

One of the most common questions asked by Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applicant is, “How far back will I be paid my SSDI benefits?” This is a common question because many SSDI applicants become disabled, stop work and then wait a few months to apply for benefits. Add to that the time it takes for the SSDI application to be processed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and we may be talking about a lot of back pay. But how far back does the payment really go?

Recently on our disability forum we had an applicant ask, “I have been off work since May 2011. Will I be paid from that time?” There are several issues that must be considered.

What is my alleged onset date (AOD)?

The first thing the SSA will consider is when your disability began, which is what they will call your alleged onset date (AOD). But what really matters most important is when you stopped performing what the SSA will call substantial gainful activity (SGA). Because the SSA assumes that if you can work at a certain level than you are not disabled, your AOD cannot be before you stopped working at an SGA level.

Another consideration is what is stated in your medical records. Even if you stopped working, if there is no evidence that you are disabled within your medical records until months later, it may be tough to prove you were disabled at the time you stopped working. A disability lawyer can work with you to determine the best date to list as your AOD date.

So when will my SSDI payments start?

If the alleged onset date is more than 17 months prior to the initiation of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim it will not matter how far back you became disabled because SSDI retroactive benefits are not paid prior to this date (17 months less the 5 month SSDI waiting period allows for retroactive benefits for 12 months prior to the SSDI application date).

So how do you know if you will get retroactive SSDI payments? You will have to prove that your alleged onset date is before the application date.

So, for the applicant who stopped working in 2011, whether or not they will get retroactive benefits back to that date will depend when they stopped working, when they applied for SSDI and the date of their alleged onset date.

What’s the bottom line?

Regardless of when you stopped working, your date of entitlement will start five months after the EOD date. If your onset date is 17 months before the application date (or more) you will be entitled to the full 12 months of retroactive benefits prior to the date of the SSDI application.

Hiring a disability lawyer

Many disability applicants can receive SSDI benefits without legal help. Other applicants find the process difficult and confusing and seek legal assistance from a disability lawyer.

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