Yes. Since it can take months or even years for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to grant disability benefits, many claimants will be owed hundreds of dollars in back pay by the time their claims are approved. When you are approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you should also be sent a lump-sum payment dating back to the original date of your application.

How Social Security Pays “Back Pay” Benefits for SSI

If you were approved for SSI benefits, you will likely be paid for your back benefits in a single check. However, if the amount of back pay owed to you is substantial, it may be split into several installment payments. The rules for back pay installment payments are as follows:

  • You will be paid in installments if the amount owed in back pay is over three times the maximum monthly amount of SSI (before any deductions).
  • Installments are split into three payments, which are sent every six months.
  • The amount of each payment will vary. The first two payments must be less than three times your maximum monthly benefit; however, the third installment must include the full remainder of the back pay, no matter how much is owed.

It is important to note that there can be some exceptions to these rules. Beneficiaries who have urgent medical needs or are in extreme financial hardship may be able to increase the amount of the first two payments. In addition, claimants who are not expected to live beyond one year may be able to receive the entire amount of their back pay in one lump sum. If you cannot wait to receive the full amount of your back pay, email us today at [email protected] or fill out the quick contact form on this page and we can advise you on how to proceed or just call us at (402) 933-5405.



Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska