How Many Months of Back Pay Will You Get?

Posted September 23, 2022 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Almost every applicant who is awarded Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits also gets past-due disability benefits, often called “disability back pay.” These past-due monthly payments go back to the date the applicant filed their disability application, and sometimes even earlier.

The amount of your Social Security disability back pay depends on three factors:

  • the date you apply
  • the date you became disabled, and
  • the date you’re approved for benefits.

Your Application Date

The first factor that determines how much disability back pay you’ll get from Social Security is the date you apply for disability benefits.

Payment for the months following your application date. If you became disabled at least five months before your application date, you can get back payments for the months going back to your application date. You’ll receive back pay for the months between your application date and your approval date at your monthly benefit rate.

But, for SSDI, not everyone receives benefits going back to the date they apply. You’ll receive past-due benefits going back to your application date only if you were disabled before that date. That might sound strange, but it’s because most SSDI recipients have a five-month waiting period before they can receive benefits (we’ll talk more about this waiting period below).

Payment for the months before your application date. In addition to back payments, you might be able to get “retroactive benefits” going back to the date you first became disabled, which is often many months before the application date. Most people don’t stop working due to a disability and file for disability benefits on the same day. On average, it takes about 8 months for people to finally apply for disability benefits (6 months for those age 60 and older, 11 months for those under 48).

An SSDI claimant (applicant) can get up to 12 months of retroactive benefits (back to one year before the application date), but not everyone gets this full amount. You can get retroactive pay for a year before the application date, but only if you became disabled long before your application date. How many months of retroactive benefits you can get depends on the date you became disabled.

Your Date of Disability

The onset date of your disability—that is, when your disability began—is also when your SSDI waiting period begins.

When an SSDI claimant files an application for disability benefits, they indicate (on the application) when they think their disability began. This date is known as their “alleged onset date.” 

Whether benefits will be payable back to the beginning of the 12-month retroactive period depends on how long ago your onset date was. Here’s where the other twist in calculating the SSDI benefit start date comes in: the waiting period.

Your Waiting Period

The third factor that affects when SSDI benefits begin (and how much back pay you’ll get) is the five-month waiting period. Essentially, after Social Security establishes an onset date for an SSDI applicant, the agency pauses the start of benefits for five months. (This rule doesn’t apply to applicants with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease—they get paid starting on their onset date.)

So if you apply for benefits soon after you become disabled and Social Security decides your claim right away, you might not get any back pay—you’d still be within the five-month waiting period when you get your approval letter. In that case, your monthly payments would just start at the end of your waiting period.

But most people do get some retroactive pay because they waited many months to apply for benefits. For these applicants, the waiting period doesn’t start after they apply, but earlier, right after the date their disability began. This date could be just a couple of months or several months or years before the application date. But Social Security has a rule that the five-month waiting period can’t start any earlier than 17 months before the application date (that’s why you can only get up to 12 months of retroactive benefits).

Combining all the rules and timelines here can actually get pretty complicated for SSDI recipients. It might help to look at an example to understand how the five-month waiting period affects back pay. 

If you became disabled one year ago today and you apply today, Social Security will owe you some retroactive benefits. Your date of entitlement—the date Social Security starts owing you benefits—will be seven months ago (12 months minus the five-month waiting period). In your lump sum of back payments, you would get seven months of retroactive payments, plus benefits for the number of months following your application date that it takes for Social Security to approve your case.

Please contact us today to complete a free disability evaluation!

By: Premier Disability Services, LLC®

How Much Will Your SSDI Benefit Be?

Posted September 16, 2022 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

The amount of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits you’ll receive each month is based on your average lifetime earnings before your disability began. Unlike Veterans Compensation, Workers Comp, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, SSDI isn’t based on how severe your disability is or how much income you have—everything depends on those lifetime earnings. Most SSDI recipients receive between $700 and $1,400 per month.

Estimating Your Social Security Disability Amount

In 2022, the average SSDI payment for an individual is $1,358, but almost two-thirds of SSDI recipients receive less than that. Only 10% of SSDI recipients receive $2,000 per month or more. Because benefit amounts depend on lifetime earnings, there is a large range in how much Social Security pays. For instance, let’s look at age 55, the most common age disabilities start. For 55-year-olds who have worked their entire lives, Social Security typically pays $1,000 to $2,700, depending on their past income. Someone who’s earning $50,000 at age 55 might receive $1,500 to $1,900 per month, depending on their past work, while someone earning $100,000 at age 55 might receive $2,400 to $2,700 a month.

Calculating Your Monthly SSDI Payment
The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a complex weighted formula to calculate benefits for each person, up to 2022’s maximum benefit of $3,345. The calculation depends on: -your average income over 35 years -whether you paid self-employment taxes if you owned your own business or freelanced -whether you worked in any jobs that didn’t pay into the Social Security system (such as state or local government jobs), and -whether you took any years off work for child-rearing or long-term illness. Also, if you’re receiving disability payments from other sources, like workers’ comp or a state short-term disability program, your SSDI payment may be reduced. On the other hand, if you have a spouse, children, or both, your family’s payment will be increased. In 2022, the average family payment for a disabled worker with a spouse and child is $2,383.
Doing the math yourself is difficult, but you can find your SSDI benefit amount in your Social Security Statement. You can get your statement online by signing up for an account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount.

How Much Back Pay Will You Get?
The vast majority of applicants who are approved for SSDI will receive a lump sum of past due monthly payments, which many people call “back pay.” You can get back pay going back to when date you filed their disability application, and often even earlier. How much you’ll receive in Social Security disability back pay depends on your SSDI monthly amount. And how many months of back payments you get is determined by when you apply for disability and when your disability began.

By: Premier Disability Services, LLC

How Medical Treatment Impacts your Claim and How to Find Low-Cost Free Treatment Locations

Posted September 12, 2022 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

A critical aspect of a social security claim is the submission of medical records for the Social Security Administration to review. These medical records are used to support the existence of your impairments that are stopping you from working. Generally, the Social Security Administration needs all of the records that have been made from the date you alleged you became disabled up to the present, with more weight being placed on objective medical findings, such as imaging or diagnostic testing, in order to find you disabled. However, you may have issues in developing a medical record due to the cost. MRIs, X-rays, pulmonary function tests, and other diagnostic tests and tools aren’t cheap to use or perform.

While the Social Security Administration can and will require you to go to their doctors for the purpose of a consultative examination, these examinations can only take you so far, and may not adequately show how disabling your impairments really are. They only give a snapshot of your health on that specific day. The question then is, how can I find low-cost or free treatment locations, so that I can have a medical record for Social Security to review?

The US Department of Health and Human Services have a number of resources that can help you locate clinics and treatment centers in your community. Low-cost clinics can be found in your area at https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/.

Additionally, you should see if your state has low cost or free insurance options, which are generally available to low-income families or individuals and are accepted at most medical providers and hospitals. Many states have expanded the eligibility standards for Medicaid, and if you live in a state that has not, you still may qualify if your income is below the federal poverty level of $13,590 for an individual.

By: Devon Brady of Premier Disability Services, LLC®