Retroactive Benefits for Social Security Disability
I'll devote this post to discussing social security disability, SSI, and retroactive benefits. First of all, let's clear up some confusion that many, perhaps most, claimants seem to have about retroactive benefits. And that confusion is this---retroactive benefits are not the same thing as back pay, or a back payment (also known as past due benefits).
Back pay tends to be payable to claimants who are approved for disability chiefly as a function of how long their cases have gone on, or lingered in the system. In other words, if a person --
A) decides to file for disability,
B) gets denied,
C) files their first appeal,
D) gets denied on this (known as a disability reconsideration),
E) makes a request for a disability hearing,
F) waits for the hearing to be scheduled (which can take a very long time),
G) finally gets a hearing date and appears at the hearing site on that date,
H) waits for the decision of an ALJ or administrative law judge (which again, can be a very long time),
I) waits to be put into pay status
J) and finally receives their continuing disability benefits and social security back pay or SSI back pay
---- then quite a bit of time has probably gone by. Quite possibly up to three years or more. Of course, with so much time elapsed since the filing of a disability claim, social security will determine that they owe the claimant back pay.
How much back pay...will be determined by---
A) When the disability application was filed,
B) What the EOD was determined to be (this stands for established onset of disability and it is a determination of when a claimant's disability is considered to have begun, based on a review of the medical records),
C) And whether or not the claim was for title II SSD (social security disability) benefits or title 16 SSI disability benefits.
Why does it make a difference as to whether or not the claim was for SSD or SSI? Because SSD has a five month waiting period. In most cases, there is no actual "waiting"; however, the waiting period does eliminate five months of a claimants receivable benefits, similar to an elimination period on a private disability insurance policy. SSI, by contrast, has no five month waiting period meaning that they won't be, for lack of a better phrase, robbed of five months worth of benefits.
That, in essence, is back pay. So, what are retroactive benefits? Recall how we pointed out that only SSD and not SSI has a five month waiting period (which, let's be honest is very unfair). Well, only SSD has retroactive benefits.
Back pay and retroactive benefits are commonly confused with each other. And part of the problem with this is that individuals who work within the system sometimes say "retroactive" when they mean "back pay", and sometimes say "SS back pay" when they mean "retroactive".
Retroactive benefits are only payable to claimants who are approved for social security disability benefits and a claimant may receive a maximum of 12 months of retroactive benefits. What determines whether or not you can receive retroactive benefits, and how much?
1. You can receive up to 12 months of benefits retroactive to your date of application.
2. Whether or not you receive any months of retroactive payments will depend on when you claimed your disability began (your AOD, or alleged onset of disability) and when your disability is decided to have begun by a disability examiner or a disability judge (your EOD, or established onset of disability).
Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog
Appealing a Denied Disability Claim
Social Security Disability Status on a Case
How do you Pick a Social Security Disability Representative?
How to get Approved for Disability Benefits
What do you do if you get denied for Social Security Disability or SSI?
Drawing Social Security Disability Benefits for a medical or mental condition