Whether you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), benefits are paid out monthly, and you may be entitled to a substantial amount of back pay based your application date and the date you are found to be disabled.
SSDI benefits are based on your past earnings, so they must be calculated separately for each individual. In 2016, the average monthly SSDI benefit was $1,166 per month, and the maximum benefit was set at $2,639.
SSI benefits are set at a fixed amount (currently $735 per month), and may be reduced depending on several factors, including a spouse’s income.
When applying for SSDI, there is a one year look-back period, meaning that you can receive payments for up to 12 months prior to the date of your application.
However, there is also a five month waiting period of cash SSDI benefits. This means that if the Social Security Administration finds you are entitled to 17 months of back benefits, you will actually only receive 12 months of benefits.
It may seem like something of an arbitrary rule, but unfortunately there’s no way around it other than making sure you file an SSDI application as soon as possible to ensure you get the most in benefits.
SSI benefits begin accumulating the first of the month after an application is filed, so while the benefits can be substantially less than SSDI, there is little or no waiting period.
What this means is that if you file a disability application on January 10, 2017, your benefits will be calculated back to February 1, 2017 when you are approved.
However, if you filed your SSI application on February 1, 2017, you would receive SSI benefits from this date forward.
It can be difficult to understand some of Social Security’s rules when figuring out what benefits your entitled to, which is why it’s so important to have a dedicated disability law firm on your side when pursuing your claim.