How does backpay work in Social Security disability claims?

On Behalf of | Jan 19, 2023 | SSD Benefits

It is not a secret that filing for either SSDI or SSI benefits through the Social Security Administration can take a long time. Even if a San Diego resident’s disability claim is ultimately successful, it can take months or even over a year to start drawing benefits. The good news is that under the law, those suffering with a qualifying disability are entitled to past-due benefits. Many Southern Californians may have heard these benefits referred to as backpay.

Although the amount of a person’s backpay will depend on their individual circumstances, the AARP has provided a helpful overview of how backpay works. For SSDI claims, a person legally draws benefits starting in the 6th month after the day of their disability. This is true without regard to how long it takes the Social Security Administration to award these benefits. Therefore, if it turns out that a person is entitled to benefits that the Administration originally denied, the Administration will make a lump sum catch up payment, or award backpay, a few weeks after the decision.

Back pay works a bit differently for SSI

Those who successfully claim SSI are also entitled to back pay, but the process works differently. For example, in SSI claims, the right to backpay begins immediately on the day a person applies for benefits. Timely filing for disability benefits is always important, and for SSI claims, a timely filing can put more money in the pocket of the person who needs it.

Here is an example of how SSDI backpay works

To give an example of SSDI backpay works, consider someone who is legally disabled on January 1 of this year and who applies for SSDI benefits around the same time. After initial denials, they finally get a $2,000 a month award on July 1, 2024, 18 months later. They are entitled to $24,000, since benefits should have started July 1, 2023, the 6th month after they became legally disabled.

As a word of caution, a person’s representative fee will be drawn for the backpay, and these benefits are taxable. The person in this example will likely not receive a $24,000 check. Still, as in this example, a payment of past-due benefits can easily be over $10,000. For someone struggling to support themselves in the wake of a disability, backpay is an important benefit.