Can I Receive Social Security Back Pay?

By October 28, 2020 November 11th, 2020 No Comments

If you’ve spent any time at all applying for Social Security benefits of any kind, you’re aware of the complex process that can take months (or years) to complete. If it’s clear that you’re owed benefits, the SSA has a process to determine how much your “back pay” is for the time between your entitlement date and official approval. 

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Back Pay

Firstly, there’s a mandatory full five-month waiting period from when you become disabled when you are entitled to begin receiving SSDI benefits, so any possibility for back pay correlates to the time you’ve waited for approval after that five-month period. If you are approved for SSDI only, you’ll most likely receive a lump-sum payment for the total back payment amount. 

If you’re approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), your back pay is paid in installments over a one-year period. There are exceptions if you need money for outstanding debts relating to food, shelter, or medical treatment, or you have current and/or expected expenses in the near future relating to medical treatment or the purchase of a place to live.

When Do Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Payments Begin?

If you are approved, Social Security will use your “alleged onset date,” and this will become your “established onset date,” unless there is a valid reason for a different date.  The established onset date is important as this determines when your benefits can begin. Retroactive benefits cannot be paid for more than 12 months prior to your application date.

SSI and Back pay

SSI back pay begins the month following the date of your application.  If your SSI back pay is more than a few thousand dollars, it will typically arrive in three separate installments with the first two payments equalling three times the monthly SSI benefit. If you meet any of the aforementioned exceptions for outstanding debts and current and/or expected expenses can get increased payment. You should inform the SSA about these circumstances.  


With concurrent claims for SSI and SSDI, you’ll generally receive the monthly payment which is the most, and not both monthly benefits.  If an issue arises with establishing your specific disability onset date and if there’s any challenge from the SSA, it’s wise to consult a qualified Social Security claims attorney to see if there are additional options for you to challenge their reasoning. Call the team at Drew L. Johnson, P.C. today at (541) 434-6466 to learn more and schedule a free consultation.

Drew L. Johnson

Drew L. Johnson

Drew L. Johnson has been fighting for the rights of Lane County Social Security Disability claimants for more than 40 years. Learn More