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How is SSI Back Pay Calculated?

Last updated: April 12, 2023

Applying for Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI) can take months. People with disabilities who require income assistance can receive SSI benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Those months you spend waiting for approval may be eligible for SSI back pay. You can estimate how much you might receive by understanding how SSI back pay is calculated.

What is Back Pay?

Your back pay is the Dollar amount that the Social Security Administration (SSA) could have paid you from when you filed your claim and when it was approved. Back pay might not amount to much depending on how long it took the Social Security Administration to approve your claim.

However, the missed payments could add up quickly if the appeals process must be followed before your claim is approved. You will accumulate SSI back pay while you wait for the SSA's decision during each step of the appeals process.

SSI and Backpay

Retroactive payments are not available under the SSI program. Therefore, you cannot receive compensation for the time you spent disabled before applying for benefits.

In some cases, however, you may be able to recover both retroactive benefits and back pay if you applied and were approved for SSDI benefits. Discuss your claim with your attorney if you think you might qualify for SSDI.

How does SSA Calculate SSI Back Pay?

The Social Security Administration considers various factors when determining your SSI back pay. These factors include:

  • When did you apply for benefits
  • When the Social Security Administration approves your claim

The calculation is rather straightforward. Monthly payment is calculated by multiplying the number of months between the date of your application and the date of your approval. You would be entitled to $5,880 in back pay if the SSA took eight months to approve your claim and you received the maximum payment of $735.

Why is Back Pay So Important?

It is not always easy to receive the Social Security benefits you deserve. In most cases, proving you qualify for SSI can be challenging unless you're older than 65 and qualify solely based on your age.

Here are the things you need to demonstrate:

  • A person must meet the strict criteria in the SSA's "Blue Book" of impairment listings to qualify as blind or disabled;
  • You cannot work because of your disability; and
  • You have few assets and little income.

To qualify for SSI benefits, an applicant must know what kinds of income count against them. Resources, as defined by the Social Security Administration, include:

  • Cash
  • Bank accounts, stocks, U.S. savings bonds
  • Property (land)
  • Personal property
  • Vehicles
  • Life insurance

SSI benefits will not be calculated based on all resources available. However, it is important to note that a person's income must also be considered when determining eligibility for SSI benefits. SSI attorneys can review any assets you have during their review of your case with you if you have questions about how they may affect your eligibility.

Seeking Help with Your Case

It is difficult to know how much information is necessary and what kind of documentation to provide when you try to prove your qualifications. Your chances of approval improve if you have someone familiar with the application and approval processes review your application.

However, well-qualified applicants may be denied SSI benefits when they make their first claim. Many applicants contact an SSI attorney after receiving a denial letter for their disability benefits claim. As soon as this occurs, the attorneys start working on disability appeals to secure benefits for their clients. 

It takes time for the appeals process to be completed. As a result, you might be without income for several months.

Why Do I Need Help From An SSI Attorney?

It is possible to receive back benefits for the time it took for the SSA to approve your benefits, but waiting to get a hearing after being denied can be financially draining.

As a taxpayer, you have the right to appoint someone to act on your behalf, such as a lawyer. You should also notify the SSA in writing when you select a representative.

An SSI attorney will do their best to get your benefits claims approved the first time. You will receive all the benefits you need sooner than if you had to wait months before receiving your SSI back pay.

They also work on a contingency basis, so you don’t need to worry about how they will be paid. There is no upfront payment required. The U.S. government strictly controls fees, and your attorney takes their fees from your back pay.

When will I Receive My Back Pay?

As soon as you receive approval, your benefits should begin the following month. You should receive your SSI back pay every month after your application date, meaning you should be eligible to receive your back pay for the entire first month.

Back payments from SSI are awarded in installments. The first third of your SSI back pay will be paid to you soon after approval, the second half after six months, and the final payment after another six months.

The SSA can begin paying benefits before approving your application if it considers you 'presumptively disabled.'

Applying for Social Security benefits can be an overwhelming process. If you are interested in seeking SSDI benefits, check out our article about the process Social Security uses to evaluate disability claims. To learn more, visit DisabilityHelp.org today!

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Victor Traylor
An expert to the field of Social Justice, Victor formed Disability Help to connect ideas and expertise from the US with rising global cultural leadership, building networks, fostering collaboration, long-term results, mutual benefit, and more extensive international perception.
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