How Social Security Back Pay Works in Oregon

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is often complicated and frustrating. A much higher percentage of cases are denied than are approved, and often even the approved claims are denied at least once. Oregon has one of the higher approval rates of any state in the country, and even here, only about 40% of cases are eventually granted disability. It is vital to continue to pursue your SSDI application, however, because the time you spend on the application process may be paid to you in the form of back pay.

What Is Back Pay?

While you weed through the application process, the Social Security Administration (SSA) keeps track of the time between your established disability onset date (EOD) and the date that you are officially approved. This time will add up to the back pay you are owed. Since there is such a long backlog of Social Security applications awaiting approval, nearly everyone who is approved is entitled to some amount of back pay. Furthermore, there is no limit to the amount of back pay you can accrue. So regardless of how long your application takes to process, you can rest assured you will be compensated.

How Long Does It Take?

There’s no telling how long your application may take to process. 3 to 5 months is the average approval rate for an application that meets every requirement and has no denials or processing errors. Unfortunately, it is common for an application to be denied due to missing or insufficient information. A skilled Social Security attorney can help you with the application process to ensure you are approved the first time. They can also help immediately if a denial occurs, so you have the best chance of receiving your benefits as soon as possible.

Five-Month Waiting Period

The Social Security Disability Insurance process has a five-month waiting period for all approved applications. You are not paid benefits during this waiting period. Fortunately, this waiting period begins at your established onset date. This means if your application takes five months to become approved, you will start receiving benefits immediately following the approval. The back pay you will be entitled to will also take these five months into consideration. So if your application takes 12 months to process, your benefits will begin immediately after approval, and you will be back paid the remaining seven months.

One Lump Sum

Unlike the monthly payments of SSDI, your back pay will arrive in one lump sum. This is a great way to pay off a large chunk of medical bills that may have accumulated while your application was processing. Unfortunately, back pay is yet another process that will take time to complete. After your approval, you can expect your lump sum back pay check to arrive about 60 days later. However, some may be processed sooner. It is good practice to leave your outstanding medical bills for when your back pay comes and live on your regular disability checks in the meantime.

What Are Retroactive Benefits?

Retroactive benefits may sound similar to back pay, but the two concepts are different in important ways. Retroactive benefits cover the time between when you initially stopped working due to your disability and when you first filed for disability. Unlike back pay, retroactive benefits have a strict cutoff period of 12 months, and not everyone who applies will receive them. A qualified Social Security attorney can help review your case for eligibility and prove these facts to the SSA.

Calculating SSDI Back Pay

As stated above, back pay is a lump sum payment made up of the money you would have received if your application had been approved immediately. Since there is such a backlog of applications that the SSA must work through, most applicants are entitled to some amount of back pay. So to calculate how much your back pay payment will be, follow this simple formula:

  1. Determine the number of months between your initial onset date and the date that your application is finally approved.
  2. Subtract the five-month waiting period from this number of months.
  3. Multiply the difference by the dollar amount of disability payments you receive monthly.


This is the number you can expect to receive for SSDI back pay. For an answer that is more specific to your individual situation, contact Drew L. Johnson, P.C. Attorneys At Law, at (541) 434-6466. Let us help you receive everything you are owed.