If I Am Approved for Disability, Will I Get a Lump Sum in Backpay?

Whether you'll get a lump sum or installment payments depends on whether you were approved for SSDI or SSI.

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If you're approved for Social Security or SSI disability, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will likely owe you hundreds or thousands of dollars in backpay, mostly due to the time it takes the SSA to process disability claims. When you receive the payments will depend on whether you've been approved for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Will I Get a Lump-Sum Payment for SSI?

If you were approved for SSI disability benefits, you will receive your back pay in either a lump-sum amount or, if the amount of back pay owed to you is large, in three smaller installment payments. The same is true if you were approved for both SSI and SSDI.

How Much Are the Installment Payments?

If the back pay owed to you is more than three times the maximum monthly SSI benefit amount (before any deductions are made for income or support), you will be paid in partial installment payments. In 2022, the maximum federal monthly benefit amount is $841, but your amount may be different if your state pays an SSI supplement. The backpay installments will be made in three payments, at six-month intervals. The first two payments can't be more than three times your maximum monthly benefit, and the remainder of backpay will be paid in the third installment, regardless of the amount.

Can I Request Larger Installment Payments?

There are some exceptions to the rule limiting the amount of the first two payments. The first and second payments can be increased if you need funds to purchase a home, pay for necessary medical needs, or pay off debts related to necessities (housing, food, or clothing). Medical necessities can include a car (if it's necessary to get to doctors' appointments or medical treatment), a mobile phone (if it's needed to contact medical offices), or a computer (if used for Social Security's website or online services). Housing debts can include past-due rent, mortgage payments, property insurance, taxes, and utilities (gas, electric, water, sewer, and garbage).

Can I Request My SSI Back Pay in One Lump Sum Even If It's Large?

If you aren't expected to live more than 12 months, or if you become ineligible for SSI after approval, you can receive your backpay in one lump sum.

If you think you may be eligible for larger first and second installment payments, or one lump sum, talk to a field representative at the SSA.

Will I Get a Lump-Sum Payment for SSDI?

When you're approved for SSDI, you'll usually receive a certain amount of backpay. If you were approved for SSDI benefits alone, you'll receive the backpay as one lump-sum payment. SSDI back payments are never paid in installments.

With SSDI, you might also receive retroactive benefits, which are payments for the months you were disabled before your application date (the months from your disability onset date to your application date. SSDI backpay can cover a period starting as early as 12 months prior to your application date all the way until the date you were approved.

Is There a Disability Back Pay Minimum?

SSI back pay is paid only for the months following the SSI application date to the approval date. Many people who are approved for SSI only are disappointed in the small amount of back pay they receive, and they wonder if there is an SSI back pay minimum. Social Security doesn't have a rule requiring the agency to pay a certain minimum amount of back pay. Here's how SSI back pay is calculated.

Can I Get a Lump-Sum Settlement of My SSDI Rather Than Monthly Payments?

SSDI backpay is always paid as a single lump sum. How much backpay you'll receive depends on your disability onset date, your application date, and the date you were approved for benefits.

In addition to your backpay, you'll also be entitled to monthly SSDI payments. Social Security's rules do not allow you to receive monthly in the form of a lump sum settlement; you must collect them on a monthly basis. Unlike some workers' comp benefits, you can't request a settlement of your Social Security disability benefits.

Updated March 9, 2022

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