person signing off a back pay social security document
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So, your application for disability benefits finally got approved, after months of slogging through the review process with the Social Security Administration (SSA). During all that time, you had to get by without the benefits you deserve and without being able to work for a paycheck.

Thankfully, your Texas disability attorney explained that you will get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) retroactive pay. How long does it take to receive back pay from the SSA? 

The Short Answer

People usually receive their SSDI back benefits within about 60 days of the application approval. There are, however, a few things you need to know that can affect how much back pay you get.

Direct Deposit Is Required for Back Pay

The Social Security Administration typically pays SSDI retroactive pay as one lump sum payment. The SSA will only send your back pay by direct deposit. You must have an active bank account to receive your SSDI benefits back pay. If you also receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, the back pay for those benefits does not come as a lump sum. 

There is a Limit on the Months of Retroactive Pay the SSA Will Send You

The Social Security Administration will only pay up to 12 months of SSDI back pay. If you had to go through multiple levels of appeal to win your SSDI award, your case might have gone on well past 12 months. Even cases that take two years or longer will not get additional retroactive SSDI pay beyond the 12-month limit.

You Might Not Get as Much Back Pay as You Expect

After paying into the Social Security system for so many years, you might have assumed that you would receive benefits to help pay your living expenses if you become disabled to the point of being unable to work. It comes as an unpleasant surprise to many people when they learn that SSDI benefits do not start until five months after the Established Onset Date of your medical condition. The government expects you to survive for nearly half a year without SSDI benefits or a paycheck.

Let’s say that you file your application for SSDI benefits as soon as you get diagnosed with a severe medical condition that prevents you from supporting yourself through gainful employment. If things go smoothly, your petition for benefits could get approved in about 3 to 5 months. You might think that you would get a retroactive payback to the date that you filed your petition. Because the SSA does not pay benefits for the first five months from the established onset date of your condition, you would not receive any retroactive pay.

On the other hand, if you did not file your petition for a while after your established onset date, the five-month waiting period might have passed, making you eligible for SSDI back pay. Since the SSA usually uses the date of your application as your established onset date, you will have to have compelling medical and other evidence to convince the SSA to use an earlier date.

We realize that this can be confusing. A Texas disability attorney can help you navigate the SSDI application and appeal process to help you go after the benefits you deserve. Get in touch with our office for a free consultation.