Can I Get Back Benefits? Your Social Security Benefits May Be Retroactive

You may be entitled to retroactive benefits once you are approved for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Yet the rules are confusing and the Social Security Administration may not automatically award or correctly calculate your back benefits and retroactive benefits. The Disability and Injury Law Offices of David R. Machek, Esq., skillfully advocates for full payment of claims. We regularly recover thousands of dollars in additional benefits for clients. We serve the Philadelphia Metro area and surrounding counties of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Social Security disability (SSD) benefits can only go back 12 months from the month of your application, no matter when you became disabled. By delaying your application, you could forfeit tens of thousands of dollars in benefits. There are several factors in determining when and how retroactive benefits are calculated:

  • Onset date - This is the date when your disability began. It could be when you had an accident, when you stopped working or when you started medical treatment. The Social Security Administration (state agency or hearing judge) determines your onset date. Many applicants unknowingly use the wrong onset date and cost themselves benefits as a result. We will make sure you use the correct date to maximize your benefits.
  • Application date - The clock starts when you actually apply for benefits.
  • Waiting period - For SSD benefits, there is a waiting period of five full months before you can receive benefits. (SSI payments begin the first month after you apply if you are found disabled as of that date.)
  • Back benefits - SSD and SSI will pay benefits for the period between your application and your approval, minus the wait period. Almost everyone qualifies for back benefits. Additionally, SSD (but not SSI) will pay benefits for the period between your onset date and application date, up to one year prior to the date of application for SSD benefits.
  • Installments - Large retroactive benefits in SSI cases only are paid by the SSA in installments, six months apart, rather than one lump sum.

You can and should apply for disability benefits as soon as you expect to be out of the workforce for at least 12 months. It commonly takes up to two years to get an ALJ hearing and decision. Waiting to file a claim could cost you a large amount of money, as retroactive benefits can only go back one year from the application date. For example, a person becomes disabled on June 12, 2015, and files a Social Security Disability application. If approved, after the waiting period, he or she is eligible for benefits in December, 2015. However, if that person does not file their application until April of 2017, benefits would only be retroactive to April of 2016, even if the judge determines an earlier onset date.

Contact us online or call (215) 886-0398 to arrange a free initial consultation with our lawyer at the Disability and Injury Law Offices of David R. Machek, Esq. We do not get attorney fees unless we win your benefits, and our fees are regulated by Social Security law.