If you are thinking about applying for disability benefits, you probably have a number of questions regarding the benefits that are available. Many individuals are unaware that they may receive any retroactive benefits. Even at the hearing stage of the disability process, some of my clients are confused about the nature of retroactive benefits or “back pay” and are unsure just how far back their benefits may reach. The answer depends in large part on whether you are pursuing SSI or SSDI benefits and on the “alleged onset date” in your case.
Whether you are applying for SSI, SSDI, or both, your case will allege a specific date on which you became disabled. This is known as the “alleged onset date”. Sometimes this date is the date of an accident or a surgery or other event that significantly changed the nature of your ability to function. Otherwise, your onset date may be based on the earliest medical record that supports disabling symptoms or diagnoses.
Even if your medical evidence supports disability as of your alleged onset date, there are a few other factors that may preclude you from receiving benefits relating back to that date. Despite the medical issues that you are suffering from, the Social Security Administration will not find you disabled until you have stopped working at the full-time level. This is another issue that your alleged onset date should take into account. Also, if you are applying for SSI, your retroactive benefits will only reach back to your protective filing date, regardless of how far back you allege your disability began. In cases involving claims for SSDI, you can receive back benefits from up to 12 months prior to the filing of your application.
Determining the benefits and retroactive pay that you may be entitled to in you case can be complicated. An experienced disability attorney can help answer your questions relating to the benefits that you may be eligible to receive.