Portrait of man with hand in sling talking to insurance broker after workplace injury. Concept of is SSDI retroactive

Is SSDI retroactive in your case? If you need Social Security disability benefits, it’s important to understand the requirements for filing an SSDI claim in Illinois, how to find out if SSDI is retroactive, and the difference between retroactive payments and back payments.

What Is the Difference Between Retroactive Pay and Back Pay for SSDI?

When discussing Social Security disability insurance (SSDI), people often refer to retroactive payments and back payments. While they sound the same, they are different types of payments with different payment guidelines and regulations established by the Social Security Administration (SSA). To fully understand Social Security disability retroactive pay and how these payments impact your benefits in Illinois, it’s essential to understand the differences between retroactive pay and back pay.

SSDI Retroactive Pay

SSDI retroactive pay is the amount of Social Security disability benefits that you are owed by the SSA for any eligible time that you were disabled prior to filing your initial SSDI application. If you are owed retroactive pay, it will be capped at a maximum of 12 months and paid to you by the SSA in one lump sum.

In some cases, applicants may wait to apply for SSDI after becoming disabled because SSA requirements state that a disability must last or be expected to last for more than 12 months to qualify. When this occurs, the applicant will be entitled to a retroactive payment of benefits.

SSDI Back Pay

SSDI back pay is the amount of SSDI benefits that you are owed by the SSA for the time that you were disabled after filing your initial SSDI application, but before your application was approved and your monthly payments began. If you are owed back pay, it will be paid to you by the SSA in one lump sum.

Since most SSDI applications take from 3 to 6 months for approval, applicants who became disabled during that waiting period will be entitled to SSDI back pay. SSDI back pay is usually sent out soon after an application is approved, however, an applicant will not receive any interest on back pay.

How to Determine Your Disability Onset Date

Calculating SSDI disability retroactive payment benefits depends on three factors:

  1. The Application Date
  2. The Disability Onset Date
  3. The Five-Month Waiting Period

Your Application Date

Since SSDI retroactive pay compensates an applicant for the time he or she was eligible for SSDI benefits prior to the time the initial application was filed, the application date is crucial in determining an applicant’s maximum retroactive SSDI pay. To determine the application date, SSA looks at the date on the initial application.

Your Disability Onset Date

After establishing the initial application date, the SSA must determine the applicant’s disability onset date. This date is determined by the date of disability according to the SSA’s definition of disability. An applicant’s onset date will either be the date the applicant claims to have become disabled, or the date that the SSA determines that the applicant became disabled, which may or may not be the same date.

  • Alleged Onset Date – When you file your SSDI application, you must indicate the date when you became disabled. This is your Alleged Onset Date (AOD). The SSA uses your AOD to determine how long you have been disabled. They also review your work history and medical information to make sure it supports your AOD.
  • Established Onset Date – If the SSA agrees with your AOD, your alleged date of disability becomes your official Established Onset Date (EOD). If the SSA does not agree with your AOD after reviewing your work history and medical records, they will establish their own date of disability. This date will become your official Established Onset Date (EOD).

The Five-Month Waiting Period

After the SSA establishes an official onset date for SSDI retroactive disability payments, you will be required to wait 5 months from that date before you will become eligible for retroactive benefits. For example, if your Established Onset Date (EOD) is June 5th, you will not become eligible for benefits until November 5th. This 5-month waiting period applies to all SSDI benefit recipients.

Calculating SSDI Retroactive Pay and Back Pay

If the SSA determines that you were eligible for SSDI payments prior to the date that you actually applied for SSDI, you will be entitled to some amount of retroactive pay up until your application date. You will also be entitled to back pay benefits from your application date forward.

SSDI retroactive pay is capped at 12 months, so you cannot become disabled, apply for SSDI benefits 2 or 3 years later, and get retroactive pay from the date of disability. Given the required 5-month waiting period, you would have to be disabled for 17 months or more before your application date in order to receive the maximum amount of SSDI retroactive pay. In such a case, the SSA would deduct the 5-month waiting period and then pay you for 12 months of SSDI retroactive pay.

How to Qualify for Retroactive Benefits in Illinois

To determine if you qualify for retroactive benefits in Illinois, it’s best to talk to a Chicago disability lawyer who handles SSDI claims within the state. SSA guidelines and regulations for filing disability claims may vary slightly from state to state. In Illinois, all Social Security disability claims are handled by the Illinois Disability Determination Services Office (DDS). Although SSDI is a federal benefits program, each state’s disability determination agency is responsible for making medical decisions, establishing onset dates, determining is SSDI retroactive, and calculating SSDI retroactive pay and back pay for each SSDI applicant in Illinois.

If you need to file an initial application for SSDI benefits or find out if SSDI is retroactive, a disability lawyer can assist you through the process. Your lawyer can help you fill out your application form, make sure you submit all required documents on time, explain how disability payments are calculated, and address your questions and concerns about SSDI retroactive pay and back pay.