Social Security Retroactive Pay vs. Back Pay in Los Angeles

By Kenton Koszdin on June 4, 2023 | In Disability Insurance

Social Security Retroactive Pay vs. Back Pay in Los Angeles

The Social Security system is a lifeline for many. However, it is no secret that recipients must often wait up to two years to receive the money they are entitled to.

If you or someone you love have been waiting to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits, you deserve to have your case resolved and receive retroactive benefits, SSI back pay, or both.

Contact the Kenton Koszdin Law Office in Los Angeles to get the help you deserve.

What Is Social Security Back Pay? 

Disability back pay

If you have applied for SSDI or SSI benefits but have not received any payments, you may be entitled to Social Security disability back pay for some of the time you have been waiting. Disability back pay refers to the benefits that the Social Security Administration owes you due to a delay in processing your benefits.

If you are waiting for SSDI benefits, you should know that back pay does not include the first five months after the alleged onset date of your disability.

In contrast, if you are to receive SSI benefits, your back pay will begin not on the established onset date of your disability but after you have filed your application for benefits.

SSDI vs. SSI Back Pay

When it comes to receiving money for delays, important differences and similarities exist between SSDI and SSI back pay and retroactive benefits. Understanding the characteristics of these benefit types can help you determine whether you’re eligible to receive either or both.

Consult the following table for reference. It details some of the important distinctions and similarities between SSDI and SSI in terms of back pay, retroactive benefits, and accompanying interest.

Back payments? Yes Yes
Retroactive benefits? Yes No
Interest on back pay? No No


What Are Retroactive Benefits in Los Angeles?

Social security back pay

Retroactive payments are those that you may receive for periods of disability in the past. It is important to note that SSI retroactive payments do not exist. They are only available for SSDI applicants who have earned enough work credits for SSDI benefits.

SSDI retroactive payments are intended to cover periods of disability not previously claimed in an application for SSDI benefits.

To be eligible to receive retroactive pay of disability benefits, which comes as a lump-sum payment, you must demonstrate that your disability onset date occurred before you filed for disability benefits.

You must also show that you were disabled for a minimum of five months before the date of your disability application due to the mandated five-month waiting period.

In other words, retroactive SSDI benefits are payments you receive because you delayed applying for the benefits you deserved. If you feel you might be owed a retroactive payment, contact an experienced SSDI attorney immediately.

Regarding how far back you can go to receive retroactive disability payments, you can claim payments for up to one year before you applied for Social Security disability. This assumes that you were disabled during that time – disability before that period will not make you eligible for retroactive payments.

When Do Disability Payments Begin?

When your Social Security disability benefits payments begin depends on the program you are under.

For example, individuals who receive SSI benefits can typically expect to receive their first payment a full month after they have been approved for benefits. If the Social Security Administration approves you for benefits on June 1, you can expect your first monthly payment on the 1st of July.

However, there is an exception. If you are considered presumptively disabled, you may be authorized to receive benefits while your application is in the processing stage.

If you are applying for SSDI benefits, the period you must wait before receiving your first payment is typically much longer than the SSI waiting period. The factors that affect how long you must wait include your disability onset date, the mandatory waiting period, and your application date.

Date of Onset of Disability

SSDI back pay

The established onset date of your disability is important because it marks the official beginning of your disability. Factors that are relevant to the determination of your established onset date include:

  • The date you allege the disability began;
  • Your age;
  • Your work history;
  • The nature of your disability;
  • Medical records and medical evidence.

In other words, your established onset date may be different from the date you became medically disabled. It is up to the discretion of the Social Security Administration to determine the established onset date that will be used to create a timetable for your benefit payments.

Waiting Period

Once the SSA confirms your established onset date, there will be a five-month waiting period before you can begin receiving monthly payments. This waiting period is to determine whether you truly have a long-term disability.

In many cases, the time it takes to receive the first payment exceeds five months. When this occurs, you may be eligible for back pay for disability. Social Security disability backpay covers the time you have waited for your first payment, minus the five-month waiting period.

Date of Application

Social security disability back pay

Because there is a waiting period before you can receive benefits, you should not hesitate to apply for SSDI.

It is important to note that the date you apply for disability benefits is not necessarily the date of onset of your disability. Furthermore, your SSDI retroactive pay is retroactive to your established onset date, not the date of your application.

Back Pay and Retro Pay Similarities

Understanding SSDI back pay vs. retroactive pay starts with understanding their similarities. Both are under a 12-month time limit, which means neither can be paid to an individual who has been delayed or waited to apply for more than 12 months.

Keep in mind that the five-month waiting period factors into the formals for SSDI recipients, meaning an individual must wait at least 17 months to seek back payments or retroactive pay for the entire 12 months.

How Are They Different?

Back pay for Social Security and disability retroactive pay differ in a few key ways, including:

  • Retroactive pay, not back pay, is only for periods of disability before the established onset date;
  • Back pay only covers the time after your established onset date;
  • Retroactive pay is only available for recipients of SSDI benefits.

Depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to receive both back pay and retroactive pay. Speaking with a Social Security disability attorney will help you determine the extent of the benefits.

Accessing the Benefits You Are Entitled to

Accessing the full benefits you are entitled to can take time, and it is often a complex and frustrating endeavor. But nothing is more frustrating than leaving benefits on the table. An experienced disability lawyer can help you work through the difficulties and get your hands on the benefits that will make a difference in your life.

Kenton Koszdin and his team in Los Angeles are ready to meet and discuss your case with you. Do not let delays prevent you from receiving SSA disability back pay or retroactive benefits. Contact our office today for a free consultation!

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