I Was Awarded Social Security Disability – How Far Back Will the Social Security Administration Pay?

If you applied for Social Security Disability and you were awarded these benefits either directly from the Social Security Administration or after an appeal, then you may receive a retroactive payment of benefits in addition to ongoing benefits. These retroactive benefits are often referred to as “past due benefits.”

When an individual first applies for Social Security Disability, one of the questions that must be answered is when the individual became disabled, called the Alleged Onset Date. For many people, this is a difficult question to answer. Oftentimes people apply for Social Security Disability without a single, specific, traumatic event that rendered them disabled. Instead, for many people, their health worsened over time. Most people, when faced with such a situation do their best to continue working, until work, and even daily life, become overwhelmingly difficult. When faced with the question about the most accurate alleged onset date from the Social Security Administration, people often refer back to when their story of disability began. Such a date may, or may not, accurately reflect a level of disability sufficient to meet the stringent qualifying criteria for the award of disability benefits. If you are considering applying for Social Security Disability, just provide the date that you believe most accurately reflects a period when your conditions, both physical and psychological, prevented you from being able to work on a regular, full-time basis.

However, there is collection of rules that controls how far back a person who is placed on disability will be paid. The first thing to know is that the maximum period for payment of retroactive benefits on a Social Security Disability claim is twelve months from the date that the Social Security Administration recognizes as the filing date of your Disability application. This filing date is called your Protective Filing Date. Another factor that affects the period of retroactive benefits is a five month waiting period. This five month waiting period is a period of time that is never paid because in the view of the Social Security Administration, this provides sufficient time to determine if the disability is only temporary and will not last the minimum 12 month period, or to determine if the individual will show definite signs of recovery. (See POMS DI 10105-070). The exceptions to the five month waiting period are not applied to person who either has ALS and the notice of award is on or after July 23, 2020, or the person had a prior period of disability benefits that terminated within 5 years before the current period of disability began. (See POMS DI 10105-075). In cases where the disability has lasted 17 months or more before the application for Social Security Disability was filed, it may be possible to collect the full twelve months of disability payments counting backwards from the protective filing date of the application, if disability can be established for that period as well.