You have been waiting over six months for your Social Security disability application to be approved. At this point, you’re not wondering what will happen if your claim is denied—you’re wondering if you’ll be able to pay all of your overdue bills if your benefits actually come in.

The Social Security Administration knows that the disability claims process can take a long time from application to approval. For this reason, nearly all claimants who are awarded benefits will also be granted past due disability benefits, or disability "back pay" dating back to the filing date of the original application.

How Can I Get Social Security Disability Back Payments?

In most cases, applicants whose benefits are approved will receive back pay in one lump sum, paid separately from your monthly disability benefit check. How much you are entitled to receive in back pay depends on three factors:

  • Your application date. Approved applicants are generally entitled to benefits from the date that their disability began. In most cases, this is the date when you sent in your original benefits application. However, some beneficiaries can be considered for benefits for the year prior to their application date.
  • When your disability began. The most important factor that determines when your disability payments should begin is the onset date of your disability. When you file an application for benefits, you are required to indicate the date that your disability began, known as the alleged onset date (AOD). Once you have been approved for benefits, you will be granted an established onset date (EOD) by a disability examiner. In many cases, the two dates will not match. However, the EOD is based on the claimant's medical records and work history, it will be considered by the Social Security Administration as the official date your disability began.
  • Your waiting period. The last thing that affects your benefits is the five-month waiting period. Once you have been approved for benefits, you must wait five months from the established onset date of injury before your benefits can be paid. If you are awarded back payments from the year before your disability, you will have five months of benefits removed from the lump sum payment to compensate for the unpaid waiting period.

Want to be sure you’re getting the full amount of benefits you’re entitled to? Read the related links on this page or email us at [email protected] to find out how we can help you get back pay.


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