disability application

Are Social Security Disability Benefits Retroactive?

Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) provides disabled individuals with monthly benefits. People who are approved for SSDI often wonder whether such benefits are retroactive. Retroactive benefits are payments that predate a person’s initial SSDI application. In this article, we examine whether Social Security disability benefits are retroactive. 

Established Onset Date 

Your established onset date is the date that your disability began. In other words, it is when your impairment prevented you from holding employment. This date is established by the Social Security Administration (“SSA”).  If your established onset date occurred before you applied for SSDI or before were approved for benefits, you may be able to obtain retroactive benefits. In order to determine your established onset date, the SSA reviews the following factors: 

  • You can’t do the work that you used to do.
  • Your condition prevents you from doing other types of work.
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least a year or to result in death.
  • You have satisfied other eligibility criteria.

How Long Until Retroactive Benefits are Available?

When determining your retroactive benefits, you should keep in mind that there is an initial waiting period. Even when the SSA determines your established onset date, you will not receive your benefits immediately. Rather, the SSA requires that an applicant wait five months after his or her established onset date to receive benefits. This five-month period is called the “waiting period” and it must be an entire five months. So, unless your established onset date is on the first day of a month, the SSA will wait until the first day of the following month to begin counting the five months you have to wait until you can receive your retroactive benefits. For example, if your established onset date is February 2, the remainder of February will not count towards your five-month waiting period. Rather, your waiting period would be March, April, May, June, and July.  Your benefits would then be available starting on August 1. There are some exceptions to this rule, however. For information on exceptions to the waiting period, please contact a Texas SSDI and SSI attorney.

Limits on Retroactive Payments

Although retroactive benefits are available for eligible applicants, the SSA will not pay for more than 12 months of retroactive benefits. 

Contact Our El Paso SSDI and SSI Attorney 

If you need assistance with the SSDI application process, we recommend that you contact a Texas SSDI and SSI attorney for assistance. When you choose attorney Jon Sipes to assist with your SSDI or SSI claim, he will do everything legally possible to ensure that your Social Security disability claim is successful. Jon Sipes regularly helps individuals who are unable to work due to disability obtain benefits under the SSDI and SSI programs. If you’re ready to get started, contact us today to schedule a consultation.