How do I get my Disability Backpay? (Disability Past Due Benefits)

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

Disability benefits take a long time to be granted depending on your disability case and whether it is granted at first attempt or you go through a reconsideration or appeals process. Hence, the full procedure can take anywhere between six months to two years, to finally get your disability claims granted.

What is Disability Backpay?

Disability backpay is when almost all claimants get their past due benefits if and once they are approved by the Social Security Administration to receive disability benefits. During the claims process, you will have to pay for your disability such as medical bills, doctor’s fees, prescriptions, wheelchair and many such bills from your own expenses. However, once you get your disability claims approved, you will be reimbursed the amount spend on your disability during the process – hence, the disability backpay.

To learn about your SSDI medical eligibility, click here.

When will you be granted Disability Backpay?

How far back will you receive your disability backpay will depend on several factors, such as:

Application Date

The first factor that determines when your disability will start depends on the time you filed for your disability i.e., your disability application date. Normally a disability applicant receives disability backpay dating to the start of their disability filing application however, in some case the disability benefits are paid even prior to the application date, from the time the disability actually started, known as retroactive period. The retroactive period benefits only apply to the disability claimants.

Alternatively, if you have a ‘protective filing date’, you can get your disability benefits backpay starting from that date as if it were the application date.

Date of Disability Recorded in your Medical Records

The second most important factor regarding your disability benefits is the start date of when your disability started.

A disability claimant who has been approved for benefits will be given an EOD, or “established” onset date. The established onset date is set by your DDS disability examiner, or an administrative law judge, ALJ (if your case has gone to hearing), and is considered to be the date for when your disability actually began. The EOD will be based entirely on your medical records and work history. In other words, how far back your disability is recorded to be started is to be decided according to the evidence available from your doctor’s reports, lab test results, and disability application.

For SSDI claimants, whether or not benefits will be payable back to the beginning of the 12-month retroactive period time will depend on the onset date that is established, either by a disability examiner or by an administrative law judge. But there is another important factor in determining the SSDI starting date, i.e., a waiting period.

Five-Month Waiting Period

Additionally, the SSDI applicants who have been approved and given an established date of onset will have five months of benefits removed from the beginning of their disability. In other words, the “date of entitlement” doesn’t start until five months after the EOD.

If your disability claims examiner or the administrative law judge determines that the onset date is 17 months prior to the application date, or more, the claimant should be entitled to the entire 12 months of retroactive benefits prior to the date of the SSDI application.

Lump Sum Payment

Regardless of the amount or period of disability backpay, the SSDI amount of disability backpay is always paid as a lump sum.

If you or a loved one has filed for disability and has to claim a disability backpay, you can consult a disability attorney here.

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts is the managing attorney for Disability Advocates Group. She opened Disability Advocates Group to assist individuals who became disabled and unable to work to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.  Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.