Can I Receive Social Security Backpay?

By January 10, 2021 January 30th, 2021 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 “backpay” is for the time between your entitlement date and official approval.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Backpay

To start, there’s a mandatory full five-month waiting period from the date when you become disabled to the time when your benefits start. If you are approved for SSDI only, you’ll receive a lump-sum payment for the total backpayment amount.

If you’re approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), your back pay is paid in 3 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 begin. For SSDI, retroactive benefits cannot be paid for more than 12 months prior to your application regardless of your “established onset date.”

SSI begins the month following the date of your application. The back pay 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.

What About Appeals and Hearings?

If your claim is initially denied, you do have the right to a hearing as part of the appeal process. if your application is denied you’re looking at potentially 18 months to receive any sort of payment, due to the time the appeals process takes. 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.