The Social Security benefits application process can be time-consuming and complicated. The Social Security Administration denies most first-time applications, and the appeals process can take months. What happens if you are entitled to Social Security disability benefits, but your application takes months to process? You could be entitled to disability back pay for the months that you waited to be approved for benefits. 

If you would like to find out whether you’re eligible for back pay from the Social Security Administration, reach out to the experienced lawyers at Disability Advocates Group. We will carefully review your case and explain your legal options to you. If you are entitled to back pay, we will help you pursue the back pay you deserve. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation. 

What Is Social Security Disability Back Pay?

Social Security back pay includes all of the benefits you could have received from the Social Security ministration while waiting for your application to be processed. The amount of back pay to which you’re entitled depends on how long it took the Social Security Administration to process your claim. You’re only entitled to back pay between the date you applied for Social Security and the date you began receiving payment.

If your claim only took a few months to process, trying to obtain back paid may not be worth the time and effort. However, if you had to appeal the denial of your claim, the amount of missed benefits payments can add up quickly. There are four levels of appeals for Social Security disability benefits claims. Each stage of the appeals process can take several months. If you’ve undergone a lengthy appeals process, a significant amount of back pay may have accumulated while you waited for the Social Security Administration’s final decision.

Back Pay Is Different Than Retroactive Payments

The Social Security Administration does not award individuals retroactive disability payments. For example, an applicant cannot recover compensation for the months before submitting their application for benefits, even if they were diagnosed with a disability during that period. You can only recover back pay if you’ve already applied for benefits and your application has been approved.

How the SSA Determines Social Security Back Pay

The Social Security Administration determines the amount of back pay to which you’re entitled based on the date you filed your disability claim and when they approved your claim. The specific process for determining how much back pay you’re entitled to depend on whether you were approved for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, or both. 

If the Social Security Administration approved you for SSDI benefits, they would provide your back pay in a lump sum. Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration is notorious for delays related to back pay. The date you will receive your back pay is unpredictable. 

In some cases, the Social Security Administration deposits an applicant’s back pay before they’ve notified the applicant that their claim has been approved. In other cases, applicants receive their typical monthly benefits before receiving back pay. SSI payments will not arrive in a lump sum. Instead, they will be paid out over time, incrementally. Recipients of back pay do not receive interest on the total back pay amount. 

The Five-Month Waiting Period for Disability Back Pay

The process for calculating back pay is somewhat simple. However, the Social Security Administration does impose a 5-month waiting period. For example, if your claim took five months or less to process before it was approved, you cannot request back pay. If your claim took longer than five months to process, the Social Security Administration subtracts the five-month waiting period from the back pay amount.

Supposed it took a year for the Social Security Administration to approve your claim. You’ll be entitled to 12 months of back pay. The Social Security Administration will subtract a 5-month waiting period from the benefits to which you’re entitled, however.  As a result, you will only receive seven months of back pay.

The Social Security Administration will pay a maximum of 12 months of back pay. Suppose your application took 24 months to be approved. In that case, you are entitled to 12 months of back pay. Even though it may seem as though you’re entitled to 19 months of back pay, the maximum amount of back pay is 12 months. 

The Social Security Administration’s Windfall Offset Provisions

The Social Security Administration may adjust your back pay amount according to its windfall offset provision. The Social Security Administration determines an applicant’s SSI back pay amount based on their income. If you have been approved for benefits under SSI and SSDI, the back pay amount through SSDI will count as income for SSI benefits.

The Social Security Administration will automatically reduce your SSI benefits to account for your back pay “income.” The Social Security Administration will consider your SSDI back pay as income that has been available to you throughout the entire disability period. If you’re unsure how much back pay you should be receiving, we recommend contacting Disability Advocates Group. Our legal team can help you ensure that you’re receiving the full amount of back pay to which you’re entitled.

Contact a Los Angeles Social Security Benefits Lawyer Today 

Did your Social Security claim take a long time to process? If so, you may be entitled to up to 12 months of back pay from the Social Security Administration. Contact the experienced Social Security benefits lawyers at Disability Advocates Group today to schedule your initial consultation. We will carefully review your case and advise you as to whether you are entitled to back pay.