When filing for disability, one of the first questions many applicants have is, “Do I qualify for back pay?” The short answer is yes but as they say, “It’s complicated.” Social Security disability benefits are paid to qualified applicants six months after the date of eligibility (five month of which are a waiting period, more details below). In some cases, depending upon the date of filing and/or the disability, back pay is also awarded.
Social Security disability claims are scrutinized very hard by the Social Security Administration. That being the case, it can take as long as five months to receive a verdict on the case. This processing time works almost hand-in-hand with the lapse from the eligibility date to the date actual paid benefits start. For instance, if you were to become eligible and file on Feb 1, 2015, your first month for actual payments would be July 1, 2015.
What is the Social Security Disability Benefit?
The benefit for every individual is different. The payment amount is determined by the amount of money earned “on the books” by the recipient. In other words, those jobs you had shoveling snow and cutting grass during your childhood summers will not count, nor will any other “under the table” income. The only earnings used in determining benefits are earnings where taxes were collected, a portion of which contributes to the Social Security fund.
Can I Collect Back Pay for the First Five Months Once my Benefit is Determined?
The first five months of eligibility are actually a waiting period. Therefore, no, you cannot get back pay for those initial five months. However, perhaps you did not file your claim on the first day that you were actually eligible and it takes the maximum of five months to process the application. In this case, you may not actually get approval until month six or seven, in which case you will be eligible for payment for those first two months while the application was in the system.
As you can see, the process can be quite involved and complicated, which is why we recommend hiring a Social Security disability attorney. Your attorney will be able to look over your case and give you a more realistic idea if the case will be approved as well as helping you determine the actual benefit that will be received. There is the added benefit of having an attorney look over the application to ensure all information is provided and all forms are properly filled out before submission. This will help speed up the process and ensure that your application is not declined or returned because it was not filled out properly.