Back Pay for Social Security Disability

Published on December 27th, 2017

The process of applying for benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) can be a long and drawn out situation. Most applications are denied on their initial submission and must be appealed before benefits are granted. Currently only around 30 percent of applications are granted benefits without appeal. Most applications are approved after being heard by an administrative law judge during a disability hearing.

Back Pay

Considering that the initial application often takes around three months to receive a determination that means the afflicted person has been struggling for at least that much time. The onset of most disabilities is not always the day that a disability benefits application is filed, so there could be months or years prior to the application that the claimant has been suffering with the difficulties caused by the disability while trying to make ends meet.

If the applicant is not determined to be eligible for benefits based on the application then it can take an additional 4 months for the reconsideration process. The claimant has up to 60 days to file for the reconsideration, so that can add even more time, up to half a year after the application was denied to start receiving benefits.

Unfortunately the reconsideration process rarely overturns a benefit denial, as more than 90 percent are affirmed to remain as a denial. The next step is requesting the disability hearing, which currently in 2017 the national average for time waited before the hearing is 595 days. With the time taken for the application and reconsideration processes, that adds up to over 2 years on average for an individual to make it to the point where most benefits are approved.

That is quite a bit of time where an individual must find income and assistance while they wait to be given a chance to start collecting Social Security benefits. Fortunately the SSA understands that while it doesn’t make the time spent applying for benefits any easier, it can help alleviate some of the harm by providing back pay to the date of the initial application, or earlier if qualified.

Determining how far back the SSA may pay depends on three things:

The Application Date. The date printed on the application for when it was received is the most common date that back pay will be authorized to. There is a strong incentive to apply as early as possible to ensure compensation can be granted for as much time as possible. This is especially true for SSI payments as they will only go back to the application date. In the case of SSDI, then there may be the chance for retroactive benefits as well, going back up to one year prior to the application.

Date of Disability. On the application for benefits, the claimant is required to list an estimated date for the onset of the disability, or when it started impairing the person from having substantial gainful income. After approval for benefits then a DDS examiner will set an established onset date for the disability. Based on that established onset date then the retroactive benefits for SSDI may be authorized.

Five Month Waiting Period. The final factor when it comes to establishing how much back pay may be authorized is the five month waiting period. It is automatically assumed that from the onset of the disability that five months must pass before the disability can be confirmed to be causing the loss of income. Most claimants will not be paid for the first five months starting at the established onset date. Because it usually takes more time than that to be approved it doesn’t prevent payments from beginning as soon as approval is granted, but the back pay may be less than expected. Once approved, back pay is generally provided in one lump sum payment to the claimant.

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