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Q: After a few denials and appeals, the process for getting my disability has taken almost two years. Will I receive benefits for any of that lost time?

One of the greatest challenges facing the next generation, as well as this current generation, is the Social Security system. People with career-ending or work-preventing disabilities wait in a seemingly endless line to receive funds that may or may not be sufficient to support an individual or family. As the system becomes more and more backlogged, the amount of time that many applicants wait to receive benefits grows steadily.

A big problem with the long wait time to receive Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits is that these individuals, who are unable to work and earn a living due to their disability, may have little to no income supporting their household. Once their short-term disability payments or workers’ compensation award ends, they will rely solely on their SSDI benefits to sustain themselves—but the longer the benefits take to be awarded, the longer these applicants are forced to go with no income.

Because of these deficiencies in the system, it is possible for applicants to receive benefits that are past due, which are also known as back pay. The time frame that they may be awarded back pay for is varied, but will often be paid back to the original date of application. This payment is awarded in a single lump sum, which can often help these applicants get back on track financially after their long wait.

How Much Back Pay Will You Receive?

Your back-pay calculation will depend on three things: the date your disability began, the date you applied for SSDI benefits, and the five-month waiting period associated with SSDI benefits.

The date your disability began is probably the most influential factor in your back-pay case. When you applied for SSDI benefits, you were asked to provide the date your disability began. When you are approved for benefits, you will be given an established onset date (EOD) based on your medical records, doctor’s statements, and other evidence. Since many people wait several months between their disability onset and applying for benefits, these months may also be taken into consideration.

Another factor that is considered is the date that you actually applied to receive disability benefits. Whether you filed for SSDI right away or waited for a year after becoming disabled to apply, you may be able to receive back pay not only from your application date, but also up to 12 months before your application date depending on your EOD.

Finally, your claim examiner or administrative law judge will apply a five-month waiting period to the date of your EOD. This is because you are not entitled to disability benefits for the first five months of your disability. This means that if your EOD was determined to be 15 months prior to being awarded benefits, you should receive 10 months of back pay.

Helping Disabled Workers Gain Financial Stability

While the SSDI system is admittedly flawed, the availability of back pay can help make it right for the people who are affected by system inefficiencies. If you have waited too long to receive your benefits, let the Lancaster disability attorneys at Schmidt Kramer help you get what is rightfully yours—contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

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