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  • Christopher Le

Calculating Social Security Disability Back Pay


If a claimant has been approved for SSI, the monthly amount depends on household income and assets. Social Security takes into account earned and unearned income, mortgage or rent payments, and other income amounts in the same household. The monthly maximum federal amounts for 2020 are $783 for an eligible individual, $1,175 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse. The average individual disability claim lasts 31.6 months. In many states, if you’re found eligible for SSI, you’ll also be eligible for Medicaid and sometimes Section 8 housing benefits. If there are dependent children under the age of 18 they are also entitled to social security disability benefits, as well as any children 18 and older who still attend high school. If you are the surviving spouse of a worker who qualified for Social Security retirement or disability benefits, you and your minor or disabled children may also be entitled to benefits based on your deceased spouse’s earnings record.


If a person is awarded SSDI benefits, the monthly amount they receive is adjusted proportionally to the income they were earning when they were working. If a claimant has been approved for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance AKA Title II), the aveage monthly amount is approximately $1258 fro 2020. Your spouse may receive social security disability benefits based on your work if they are caring for a child of yours who is younger than age 16 or disabled. The most a family can receive of SSI and disability combined is currently above $3300. 

The back pay benefits are a little more difficult to calculate. The back pay benefits basically reimburse you for the months you waited to be approved, and in some cases can go even further back. Lets say your disability began 17 month prior to your application date, you may be eligible for back pay for the 12 months prior to you application date. But why 12 months and not 17 months? Well, under the SSDI program, there is a "5 month waiting period". This means that even if SSA finds you disabled 17 months prior to your filing date, due to the 5 month waiting period, your first date of entitlement to disability benefits would only be 12 months prior to your filing date.

In the case of SSI, the back pay benefits can only go back to the Date of Filing, or the date of application.


its also not uncommon for a claimant to be approved for SSI and SSDI, the amounts will offset. The claimant will actually receive two Award Notices—one from SSDI, and one from SSI. The amounts quoted on these notices reflect their own calculations and not the total amount that will be awarded. Social Security does not “double pay” benefits. For example, if SSI awards $500 and Disability awards $1000, the total will NOT be $1500. The total amount will be $1000 because of the offset.

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