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Home » Glossary » Back Pay

Definition of Back Pay

Back pay is the money a claimant receives because it has taken so long for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to process the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application. Back pay will be calculated based on the application date and the established onset date (EOD) of the claimant's application. Back pay amounts will also vary for Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance applicants.

So how much back pay can you expect to receive? It will depend if you are getting SSI or SSDI. SSI back pay is only paid retroactively back to the date the SSI claimant filed their Supplemental Security Income application. There are no retroactive payments prior to the application date, regardless of the claimant's condition before they filed their SSI application. If an SSI claimant's established onset date (EOD) is after the application date then SSI back pay will only go to the EOD date, not the application date.

SSDI applicants may receive back pay 12 months prior to their application date, less the five month waiting period, assuming their established onset date (EOD) can be established that far back. This means the claimant must prove they have not worked or performed substantial gainful activity since their EOD date, and they have medical evidence they were disabled at or prior to their EOD date.

If the EOD date is more than 17 months before the application date the claimant may be able to receive the full 12 months of retroactive SSDI benefits. It will not matter, however, if your EOD date is more than 17 months before your application date; SSDI does not allow payments for those additional months.

Back pay for SSDI is generally paid by the SSA in one lump sum payment. SSI, however, may be paid in installments if the SSA determines a lump sum payment would push the claimant over the allowable SSI resource or income limit.

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