Social Security disability benefits may begin at an earlier date than the one the Social Security Administration (SSA) finds a claimant is eligible for benefits. Back pay is an important part of the disability process. There may be disputes over when back pay should begin, and back pay plays an important part in attorney fees as well.
Figuring Out Social Security Disability Back Pay
Social Security back pay begins either when the SSA determines that the disability first occurred or when the claimant filed the application. When it determines that a person is disabled, the SSA also establishes the date of the onset for disability. This date is based on medical records, employment records and other evidence. The monthly benefits that the claimant was eligible to recover from the onset or application date to the time when the SSA finds the claimant is disabled accrue. The claimant then may receive this back pay.
Within SSA, there are two different programs that pay disability benefits. Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) provides benefits to people who have worked and paid payroll taxes. Individuals applying for SSDI may receive back pay from the date of disability. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program that ensures disabled people maintain a minimum standard of living. SSI applicants may recover back pay only from the date of application.
After SSA determines disability, the claimant has the option to file an appeal of the established onset date. You may ask for a reconsideration or a review from an administrative law judge (ALJ) or Appeals Council.
Elements of a Social Security Disability Case
Because applicants may be entitled to back pay, it’s important to establish disability as well as the date of onset. To establish they are disabled, applicants can show they meet a defined disability listing, show their condition is as severe as a listing, or show, based on their limitations, work history and other factors, they cannot perform any jobs in the national economy.
The Disability Determination Service examiner or an ALJ will determine the onset date. This requires submitting proper medical records as well as your work history. These documents can prove when your disability began through medical documentation as well as when you became unable to work.
Social Security Disability Back Pay & Attorney Fees
Hiring an attorney is a good way for claimants to help their Social Security disability case. An attorney can help collect medical records and work towards establishing the rightful disability onset date.
Back pay also affects how Social Security lawyers are paid. SSA establishes that attorneys’ fees for disability cases are set at the lesser of 25 percent of the back pay award or $6,000.
Rob Levine & Associates helps disabled individuals in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut establish their eligibility for disability benefits and the back pay to which they’re entitled. Contact our office at 866-LAW-SSDI (529-7734) to discuss your case.