How Long After Your First Disability Check Do You Get Your Backpay?

Question

I just received a disability payment, but I don't think it includes any backpay. When will I receive my lump sum of back payments?

Answer

This is certainly one of the questions most frequently asked by Social Security disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applicants, and for good reason. For most disability claimants, it takes many months or even years waiting to get through the Social Security disability system, and by that time, many applicants are in debt.

Usually, a claimant will receive their backpay (or the first installment of their backpay) within 60 days of being approved. But it doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes the backpay comes very quickly. In fact, backpay is sometimes deposited to a bank account before an award notice is even sent. Other times, a claimant's back pay can seemingly fall into an abyss and months will pass before it is received.

Much of this inconsistency may be due to the fact that SSDI backpay is not processed at the Social Security office where claimants apply. Back payments for SSDI are handled by payment processing centers, which are often located in other states, and which deal with mountains of processing work. Past due benefits for SSI, on the other hand, are processed at the local office. SSI payments, however, can get held up while Social Security requests updated income and asset information from you to determine whether you're still eligible for the program.

In a survey we recently took of our SSI recipients, the average time it took from the time of decision to the first check was just over two months, though most individuals received their checks within seven weeks.

Learn more about how how disability backpay is calculated and paid.

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