Is There a Limit to Back Pay from the SSA?

Submitted by Ram on

When an individual applies for Social Security Disability benefits and are eventually awarded the benefits they have applied for, they may be entitled to back pay from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The question often arises as to how much back pay a person can receive and whether or not the SSA limits the amount of back pay a person may be entitled to.

The fact of the matter is that there is no actual limit placed by the SSA in regards to back pay. Any back pay you receive will be determined by your disability filing date. For example, if you filed in June of 2011 and weren’t approved for benefits until June of 2013 due to the lengthy appeal process, then you would be entitled to 24 months of back pay if the SSA determined that you were eligible for benefits (and had met the five month waiting requirement) at the time of your application.

Using the scenario above, it is possible that you might also receive an additional 17 months of Social Security Disability back pay if it is proven that you were unable to work the 17 months prior to the application being filed. This means you could potentially be entitled to a total of 41 months of back pay using the above scenario. Of course, if it took more or less time to process your application, you may be entitled to more or less back pay depending on your specific circumstances.

In any regard, even though the SSA does not put a limit on the amount of back pay you can receive, you will not be able to receive more than the amount of time it takes to be approved for benefits plus a potential 17 months depending on your circumstances and the date the SSA determines you were no longer able to work. While this means that there technically is a limit to the number of months you can be compensated for, there is no actual “limit” on the amount of back pay provided by the SSA.

If you are entitled to Social Security Disability back pay, it is important to understand that there is a difference in how SSI and SSDI back pay is paid out. If you are entitled to SSDI back pay, you will receive that back pay in one lump sum. If you are entitled to SSI back pay, that back pay will be spread across three payments rather than in one lump sum.

If you disagree with the amount of back pay the SSA states that you are entitled to, you do have the right to appeal the decision. If you are going to appeal the amount of back pay you are awarded, you may want to consider retaining the services of a Social Security Disability attorney to ensure that you receive all of the back pay that you rightfully deserve.

Additional Resources