Does Social Security Give Backpay to Everyone Approved for Disability?

Question

I applied for SSI last month. Will I get backpay? I heard that everyone gets some amount of backpay from Social Security.

Answer

Back pay (past due benefits) are paid out in just about every single disability case. This is true for this reason: Social Security disability cases, from start to finish, take a long time from application to decision, often two years or more. During that time, the meter is running, so to speak, and you are entitled to receive monthly payments from when you first applied for disability benefits.

One exception: SSDI recipients who have compassionate allowance conditions or terminal illnesses are usually approved for benefits within two months. But since the SSDI program has a five-month waiting period, these individuals will probably have to wait a few months to receive their first check and they won't get backpay—unless their disability onset date was well before their application date. This is because SSDI recipients can be paid retroactively for several months (up to one year) before their application date (assuming they were disabled before their application date).

SSI recipients can't get retroactive payments for the months before their application date, but they can get months of backpay for the time they awaited a decision by the SSA. SSI recipients are only owed backpayments going back to the month after they filed their application. (Read about the difference between retroactive payments and backpay.)

In either case, however, since most disability cases typically drag on for very long periods, many claimants are usually eligible to receive one or more years of backpay. Learn more about how much backpay you can expect to receive.

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