Social Security Disability Benefits – Calculating Back Pay

When you are awarded Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you may be able to receive “back pay” for the past months leading up to the day you were awarded disability benefits. There is a maximum number of 12 months for which you can collect back pay, and there is a 5 month waiting period for SSDI that needs to be considered when determining back pay. The 5 month waiting period means that you can not collect SSDI benefits until you have been disabled for 5 complete months. It’s a little bit of a mystery why the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires this 5 month waiting period. Many people believe that it is just a way for the Social Security Administration to save money. It might be a way to make sure that only people with long term disabilities will apply for SSDI.

Whether you live in Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Diego County, or the Imperial Valley, the Social Security Disability application and appeal process can often take well over a year before your claim is approved. Your back pay will include all the past months starting 5 complete months after the onset of your disability. Your social security disability back pay amount cannot be more than 12 months.

Here are a few examples:

Example 1: Fred filed for Social Security Disability Benefits in San Diego, CA and became disabled on May 16, 2004. He filed for disability benefits on July 12, 2004. Fred was finally awarded his social security disability benefits on April 21, 2005 (11 months after becoming disabled). Fred’s back pay was for November 2003 – April 2005 (6 months). He was not awarded benefits for the first 5 complete months of being disabled (June – October, 2004). The date of Fred’s initial application is not really relevant for calculating back pay.

Example 2: Sara filed for Social Security Disability Benefits in Los Angeles, CA and became disabled on October 24, 2002. She filed for social security disability benefits on July 3, 2003. Sara was finally awarded disability benefits on January 2, 2005 (26 months after becoming disabled, 18 months after applying for SSDI). Sara’s back pay was for February 2004 – January 2005 (12 months). The first 5 complete months (waiting period) of Sara’s disability were November 2002 – March 2003.

This means that in order for you to get the maximum amount of back pay (12 months), the onset of your disability must have occurred approximately 18 months prior to the day you are awarded benefits. The DDS examiner or the administrative law judge will be looking for evidence in your medical records to support the date you claim that you became disabled. If the examiner or judge believes the disability started on a date other than the date you claim, then they will change the official date of your disability onset, which could affect the amount of back pay you will receive.

For Supplemental Security Income (SSI), there is not a 5 month waiting period; however, your back pay is for all the past months starting when you first applied for SSI on your current claim.

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Applying for Social Security Disability can be stressful and take a long time. If you get denied benefits, don’t give up. For experienced legal representation and an aggressive pursuit of your SSDI or SSI claims, contact Jorgensen Law. For assistance, schedule a free consultation at our office by calling (866) 587.9176.

With Social Security Disability (SSDI) and SSI office locations in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Riverside, we represent clients throughout the state of California. Some of the cities that are served by our offices in the Southern California area include: Santa Ana, Fontana, Orange County, Oceanside, Santa Clarita, San Clemente, Ontario, Garden Grove, Pomona, Torrance, Pasadena, Palmdale, Corona, Lancaster, Escondido, Orange, Fullerton, Chula Vista, El Monte, Simi Valley, Inglewood, Costa Mesa, Downey, West Covina, Norwalk, Ventura, Burbank, Victorville, Carlsbad, South Gate, El Cajon, Mission Viejo, Temecula and Murrieta.