Author: Gordon Heuser, Esq., Colorado Springs, Colorado
Our Social Security Lawyer’s Guide to Understanding Your Back Pay
In addition to monthly benefits, many applicants who are approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are also entitled to past due benefits, known as “back pay.”
This is simply because disability claims take a long time for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to process. Disabled individuals can wait months and, in some cases, years before their claim is approved. Back pay is intended to account for the time that you were qualified to receive disability benefits but were not yet approved.
Many disabled individuals depend on receiving back pay since their condition prevents them from holding a job during the time they are forced to wait to be approved for benefits. Our Social Security lawyers at Fitzgerald & Bomier are here to help individuals across the Fox Cities of Wisconsin understand what to expect when it comes to their disability back pay.
How and When Will You Receive Disability Back Pay?
All SSDI back payments are issued as one lump sum. The SSA will send this payment separately from your regular monthly benefits. Unfortunately, you will not receive your one-time back payment immediately after your application is approved, however, it should be a fairly quick waiting period.
After you receive your first monthly benefits check, you should expect to see your disability back pay within a few months. If three or four months have passed and you still haven’t received your lump sum, our Social Security lawyers can coordinate with the SSA to identify what might be causing the delay.
Breaking Down Back Pay: How Much Should You Get?
The amount of back pay awarded is determined on a case-to-case basis. The SSA uses three factors to calculate how far back an applicant should receive back pay. When reviewing your case, the SSA will consider:
Your Application Date
The date you first filed for disability benefits plays a major role in determining your back pay amount. You can receive benefits back to your date of application and potentially even earlier.
Some SSDI applicants are entitled to receive additional back pay called “retroactive benefits” depending on when their disability first occurred and the date they applied for benefits. Retroactive benefits can be given a maximum of one year before you applied for SSDI.
Established Onset Date
Another vital component used by the SSA is an applicant’s established onset date (EOD), or the date their disability officially began.
When you file an application for SSDI benefits, you will be asked to state when you believe your disability began. This is known as the “alleged onset date” (AOD). After your claim has been approved, a DDS examiner or administrative law judge will set your EOD – that is, the date that your disability actually began. The examiner may or may not agree with the AOD you stated in your application.
To determine when your disability began, the examiner will review evidence from your application, medical records, doctor’s reports, and work history.
Whether or not you are eligible to receive back pay for the full 12-month retroactive period depends on the EOD set by the examiner or the judge reviewing your case.
Five-Month Waiting Period
Finally, there is a five-month waiting period for SSDI claims that will affect when your benefits will start and the amount of back pay, if any, that you’re entitled to.
After you have been approved and assigned an established onset date, you will have five months of benefits subtracted from the start of your disability. This means that you will not start receiving benefits or be entitled to any back pay until five months after your EOD.
With this in mind, the only way you would be qualified to receive the full 12 months of retroactive benefits is if the examiner or judge determines that your disability began 17 months before the date you filed your SSDI application.
For more information on your benefits and the five-month waiting period, the SSA offers an online publication, “What You Need to Know When You Get Social Security Disability Benefits.”
Do You Need an Attorney?
The claim process for obtaining disability benefits is time-consuming and filled with many confusing requirements. An experienced disability lawyer can help secure any benefits and back pay that you’re entitled to while making the application and/or appeals process as smooth as possible.
Since it can take a claim months or even years to go through the Social Security system, calculating how much back pay you’re qualified to receive can get tricky. For this reason, it’s in your best interest to consult an attorney who understands disability law.
Contact Fitzgerald & Bomier
Fitzgerald & Bomier has over 35 years of legal experience representing injured workers in the Fox Cities and across Northeast Wisconsin. We focus exclusively on workers’ compensation claims and Social Security disability claims for individuals who can no longer work due to a physical or mental disability.
We’re dedicated to helping our clients understand the complicated rules and regulations that might affect their claim. If you’re located in the Fox Cities and struggling to receive your disability back pay or just have a few questions, please contact us.
You can call our law firm at (800) 928-2667 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with one of our Social Security lawyers. We’ll be happy to review your claim and discuss your legal options.
About The Author
Gordon Heuser is a social security disability lawyer in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Gordon has been practicing personal injury law in the state of Colorado for more than 30 years and is a founding attorney of Heuser & Heuser, L.L.P. Gordon, and his law firm also welcome personal injury cases related to car accidents, truck accidents, workers’ compensation, and premises liability.