Most individuals who file for social security disability, or SSI, and later win benefits will receive disability backpay. The most obvious question for anyone who's not sure about past due benefits is..."What is disability backpay?".
Simple definition: the money owed to a disability benefit recipient other than their continuing monthly disability benefits.
Why is this money owed and do most individuals who are approved for disability benefits get disability backpay? The money is owed to claimants who are approved for disability for, generally, two reasons.
The first is that social security disability claims can take a very long time to process. And for this reason a claimant's benefits can, for lack of a better phrase, back up, becoming backpay.
The second is that even for disability applicants who are lucky enough to get approved quickly (a small percentage, unfortunately), their onset date will typically be far back enough that they are owed disability backpay.
What do I mean by this? Here's a scenario ---
A a person files for social security disability and is approved two months later (most claims take far longer). They were approved rather quickly but since their medical records indicate that their condition existed for quite some time before they filed a disability application they are eligible for X number of months of backpay.
How many months prior to filing a disability application can a person be eligible to receive backpay? It depends on several factors. In some cases, a person who filed for disability on a prior application before may potentially have their older claim reopened and this may allow for the payment of greater backpay.
In most cases, however, a claimant who is approved for SSD may benefit from the fact that SSD (social security disability) can pay benefits up to 12 months retroactive to an application for disability. In other words, you can receive benefits for the 12 months prior to filing a disability application, provided that the medical records establish an early enough "disability onset date".
Do some individuals who get approved for SSD receive disability backpay in amounts equal to thousands or tens of thousands of dollars? Yes, and this is usually due to the fact that most individuals are not approved within the first few months of applying for disability. For most claimants, the process will involve disability appeals and a large expenditure of time and for this reason, upon approval, the disability backpay to which they are entitled will be more.
One important note regarding backpay: The farther back a person's onset date can be established, the more disability backpay they may potentially be entitled to. For this reason, gathering medical records and obtaining statements from treating physicians can be extraordinarily important and this is, typically, where a disability claimant will benefit from having representation from a qualified disability attorney.
Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog
Social Security Disability Requirements and Eligibility
Who qualifies for disability
Apply for social security
Appealing a denial of Social Security Disability