SSDI: Back Pay vs Retroactive Pay

When a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim is approved, in most cases the applicant won't have received any payments up until that time. At this point it may have been a year or more since the claim was filed with the Social Security Agency (SSA) and time will have passed in which the applicant hasn't received any benefits. Along with the award for ongoing SSDI payments, the applicant will receive pay for the time they were disabled and unable to work before their initial claim was approved, as well for as any time that passed while the case was on appeal.

There can be some confusion however between the two types of payments that can be received once disability benefits are approved. This can be significant if you are an applicant for SSDI since one form has a limit but the other one does not.

The two types of pay for previous benefits are Back Pay and Retroactive Pay

Back Pay

In the majority of cases there will be a gap in the time from when the you are considered eligible for payments and when you actually receive them. In the case of a claim approved on appeal, the gap in time will be much longer. Whenever your claim is approved, you will receive payments for the time beginning five months after the onset of the disability occurred. This is known as Back Pay. There is no limit on the amount of Back Pay that you can receive, which will especially apply to cases that are approved on appeal.

Retroactive Pay

Not all disability claims are filed immediately after the onset of the disability. It is recommended that you file once you do become disabled. But in some cases, a person may not be aware that they can file or for other reasons, not file an application. The SSA will allow you to file for SSDI after the onset of your disability occurs. When you do, they will pay up to 12 months of disability payments for time that you were disabled prior to the time that you apply, less the 5-month waiting period. The payments for this time period are known as Retroactive Pay.

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