(Daily360.com) – If you’re already on disability benefits, you understand exactly how long it can take to get approved. With so many hoops, exams, documentation, and red tape, it’s such a struggle, especially when you’re in pain and unable to work while you’re waiting for the approval. Having to go all that time without income (because then you’d lose eligibility) can worsen your health and endanger your living situation. For many on disability, the years leading up to actually receiving approval were the hardest in their lives. As you know, most social security disability insurance (SSDI) are denied one to two times, if not more.
Fortunately, a reprieve may be in store for you in the form of SSDI back pay, which helps you take advantage of all of the benefits you deserve.
SSDI Back Pay: What Is It?
SSDI back pay covers the amount of benefits you’d have accrued between the close of the five month waiting period and your time of approval. While you can also get separate benefits for the period of time between your qualifying disability and your application, Social Security makes the assumption that you applied on the very date you became disabled and therefore unable to work.
In reality, we understand that many disabilities don’t work that way, especially if they are the result of conditions that worsen over time rather than sudden accidents or occurrences. In either circumstance, you’ll need to prove that you were disabled prior to the application period. This requires obtaining and/or organizing a lot of paperwork, including medical records and in some cases employment and Family Leave Medical Act (FMLA) documentation.
At this stage, you should get a disability lawyer if you do not have one already. Note that there is a twelve month retroactive limit on benefits, meaning you can’t receive benefits for more than a year prior to your date of application. For most people, this means showing that they had to quit their job as the result of a disability, and that they should get disability benefits from that day on.
Are You Eligible for SSDI Back Pay?
If you were approved for disability and your case takes five months or more, you may be eligible. Beyond that, there aren’t specific qualifications for SSDI back pay. Your disability attorney should be aware of SSDI back pay and should speak with you about it.
How Do You Get SSDI Back Pay Payments?
Usually, you’ll get SSDI back pay in a single lump sum. If you’re approved for SSI as well, you’ll get three installments in equal amounts, six months apart. However, if you require money for housing, food, or debt repayment (most people do), you can request a larger amount. If your life expectancy is determined to be under twelve months or if you aren’t disabled by the time you get your back pay, you will also qualify for a lump sum.
When will you get the back pay? It’s unpredictable, kind of like getting a tax refund. Sometimes it’ll hit your bank account before you get a notification. Other times, you’ll get an approval letter first. Either way, you’ll get your payment within sixty days of approval. Don’t forget: if you have hired an attorney, their cut typically comes out of your back pay, as most social security workers accept work on contingency to avoid making you pay up front when you are strapped for cash. A standard agreement is $6,000 flat, or 25 percent of your back pay, whichever amount comes out to be less.
Like most federal tax returns, your bank pay will go directly into your bank account. That’s because you get a direct deposit form to fill out when you apply.
If your income is high enough overall, your back pay could be taxable, but you can work with the IRS to figure out how that shakes out. Additionally, if you’re a recipient of SSDI and SSI, you will likely notice a reduction in your total SSI amount.
Remember, if you’re approved for disability, you’re likely eligible for backpay. Make sure to retain good medical records, especially when it comes to proving the onset of your condition.
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