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Comparing Retroactive And Back Payments For Social Security Disability


While the exact time from submitting a disability application to approval by the Social Security Administration (SSA) may vary, there is one detail you can count on: You will NOT receive benefits right away. Not only will your application go through intense scrutiny to ensure you qualify, but there are also waiting periods and other rules that apply. Regardless of whether you applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), there will be delays that hold up payment of your benefits.

The good news is that you may be eligible to receive retroactive and/or back payments for SSDI or SSI, though the details are extremely complex. By working with a skilled Maryland Social Security disability lawyer, you have an edge in getting the amounts you are entitled to by law. A summary may help you understand the basics. 

The Key is Your Application Date: There is one easy part of comparing retroactive and back payments, and it comes down to dates. They are the time periods:

  1. Before you applied for Social Security disability, but during which you were already suffering from a disabling medical condition; and,
  2. After submitting your application, during which you continued to suffer from a disability while waiting for your claim to be approved by SSA. 

Obtaining Back Payments for SSDI/SSI: You can think of back payments as the amount you are due, which SSA would have started to pay immediately if it could process your claim immediately. It is not the intent of the SSDI/SSI programs to punish you for SSA’s delays in processing your disability application. As such, applicants who are eventually approved will be entitled to back pay for the benefits they would have received from the date of the application to the date of approval.

Back payments for Social Security benefits are especially useful considering that the average time of processing an application ranges from 3 – 5 months. All claimants are entitled to these amounts.

How Social Security Disability Retroactive Payments Work: Initially, you should note that retroactive benefits only apply to the SSDI program. Besides this limitation, obtaining retroactive payments can be complicated because of the relevant time period they cover: The date you became disabled and the date you applied. This delay has nothing to do with SSA backlogs, but rather the five-month waiting period before you can apply. Keep in mind that you can only obtain retroactive benefits for up to one year prior to submitting your SSDI claim. 

Consult with Our Maryland SSDI/SSI Attorneys About Your Disability Claim 

Though an overview about retroactive and back payments is useful, you should trust an experienced lawyer to handle the specifics of your Social Security disability claim. Our team at the Law Offices of Steinhardt, Siskind and Lieberman, LLC is prepared to assist, so please contact us to learn more. You can set up a no-cost case review at offices in Glen Burnie, Owings Mills, Ellicott City, or Annapolis, MD. Once we assess your situation, we can advise you on what to expect.


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