The application process for Social Security disability benefits can be lengthy. While the Social Security Administration (SSA) generally tries to issue initial decisions within three to five months from the date of application, most initial applications are denied. Moving your application to the hearing and appeals stage can add months or even years to your application timeline, during which you are responsible for the payment of your medical bills. However, if your application is approved, you may be entitled to back pay for the months you waited for approval. The best way to ensure that you receive the full amount of back pay to which you are entitled is with help from a Baltimore Social Security disability attorney.
Key Dates to Keep in Mind
Before we go over how the SSA determines the amount of an applicant’s back pay, it is important to keep a few dates in mind:
- Application date: The date you first applied for Social Security disability benefits. This is not necessarily the date on which you became disabled.
- Established onset date: The date on which your qualifying disability began. An applicant’s established onset date is based on the applicant’s medical records and work history and is typically set by a disability examiner or an administrative law judge. An applicant’s established onset date can sometimes be earlier than their application date.
- Five-month waiting period: Approved applicants for Social Security disability benefits are subject to a five-month waiting period before their disability benefits begin being paid
Are You Entitled to Back Pay?
“Back pay” for Social Security disability purposes refers to the benefits you could have received while you were waiting for the SSA to process your application. The amount of back pay to which you are entitled depends upon the amount of time between your established onset date and the date the SSA approved your application. However, back pay is limited to 12 months prior to your application date, and all Social Security disability benefits are subject to the five-month waiting period. Thus, you will be entitled to back pay only if your application took longer than five months to be approved.
How Back Pay Is Determined
The SSA determines back pay by counting the number of months between the established onset date and the approval date, minus the five-month waiting period. For example, let’s say that you became disabled on January 1, 2019, you applied for benefits on March 1, 2019, and were approved on January 1, 2020. Because there were 12 months between your onset date and your approval date, you would be entitled to seven months of back pay (12 – 5 = 7).
Get Help with Back Pay from a Baltimore Social Security Disability Attorney
Applying for Social Security disability benefits is time-consuming, and many applicants incur substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses while their applications are pending. The best way to ensure that you are paid the full amount of benefits to which you are entitled — including back pay — is with the assistance of an attorney. To get started, please contact Baltimore Social Security Disability attorney Emmett B. Irwin by calling 443-839-0818 or using our online contact form.