5 Month Waiting Period and Back Pay
Applicants can begin to receive benefits starting the 6th month after their established onset date (EOD) due to a mandatory 5 month waiting period maintained by the SSA. The purpose of this waiting period is to ensure that applicants have long term disabilities before they receive any benefits. For example, if the SSA awards benefits on February 1st, they won’t actually be dispersed until July. The waiting period is 5 full months, so if benefits are awarded on February 15th, the 5 month waiting period would start in March and be available in August. The date that the applicant can begin receiving benefits is known as the date of entitlement.
SSDI benefits become available to applicants as soon as the waiting period is done, as long as they are still disabled and already approved. Some claims, however, take longer than 5 months to be processed and approved. If your claim is approved sometime after the waiting period is done, you may be eligible to receive back pay for the time you were waiting for your application to be approved. For example, an applicant whose claim was approved 10 months after their EOD would be eligible to receive 5 months of back pay: 10 months minus the 5 month waiting period. 12 months is the maximum amount of back pay that can be given out. Back payments of benefits are paid in a lump sum as soon as the applicant is eligible to receive them. Attorney or advocate fees are generally taken out of back pay.
It is possible that the SSA determines the EOD to be earlier than the application date, which results in the applicant becoming eligible for retroactive benefits. Applicants may be eligible to receive benefits for up to 12 months before their application date. Because the 5 month waiting rule applies to retroactive benefits as well, an applicant’s EOD would need to be 17 months or more before their application date.
For example, an applicant whose EOD was declared to 2 years before their application date would be eligible to receive a full 12 months of retroactive benefits (24 months exceeds the maximum 17 month limit, so 17 months minus the 5 month waiting period = 12 months of retroactive pay). If an applicant’s EOD is determined to 8 months before their application date, they would be eligible for 3 months of retroactive benefits (8 months minus the 5 month waiting period = 3 months of retroactive pay.)
It should be noted that SSA may use your protective filing date instead of your application date. The protective filing date is the date that Social Security learned that you would be applying for benefits, despite having not yet submitted an application. Another thing to keep in mind is that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are not subject to the same 5 month waiting period that SSDI benefits are, and they become available the next month following approval. SSI benefits are subject to back payment as well, from the application date to the approval date.
As you can see, it extremely important to ensure that you are granted the proper onset date to ensure that you receive the maximum amount of disability benefits as soon as possible. If you have been given a date that you disagree with, it is possible to appeal the decision and have it moved back. The Lake Worth Corridor Social Security disability attorneys at The Trial Professionals have years of experience handling SSDI and SSI cases. We know the type of information and evidence needed to secure your onset date, and we are willing to fight for our clients to ensure they receive all of the benefits they are entitled to. Contact the Lake Worth Corridor SSDI attorneys at The Trial Professionals today.