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  • Christopher Le

What Do Social Security Disability Benefits Pay?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Payments are based on financial need. The monthly maximum Federal amounts for 2020:

  • $783 for an eligible individual

  • $1,175 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse

  • $392 for an essential person

This represents a 1.6% increase over 2019 payments.  (Note: Some states supplement Federal SSI benefits.)

Social Security Disability Insurane (SSDI): Payments are based on the worker’s Social Security earnings before he/she became disabled.

  • The average SSDI payment was $1,258 a month in 2020.

  • You can receive up to $3,011 a month.

Retroactive Benefits aka Back Pay

Social Security issues back pay (sometimes called “Past due benefits”) to claimants after they have been approved for disability benefits. The amounts do vary based on the type of benefits, the date the disability began, and when the application was filed.

If you have a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim, your back pay will only go back to the date you filed your initial application. Even if you may have been disabled many years prior to your filing date, you would only receive past due benefits as of the date you filed your initial application.

In the case of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), DIB, or Title II benefits, your back pay will have a five-month waiting period from your alleged onset date of disability. For example, lets say you were found disabled on January 1, 2020. Due to the 5 month waiting period, your entitlement date for disability would be May 1, 2020. This means that your back pay would date back to May 1, 2020, and not January 1, 2020. Therefore, your back pay would be retroactive to May 1, 2020 till the date of your approval.

Another important restriction regarding SSDI, DIB or Title II back pay is that it can only extend up to 12 months before the Date of Filing. For example, a claimant who has been disabled for many years, but perhaps waited until recently to file a claim, could only receive past due benefits for the year before he or she filed the initial application. For example, lets say you were found disabled as of January 1, 2017, but you filed your application for disability benefits on January 1, 2020, you will only receive back pay 1 year prior to your filing date which would be January 1, 2019 . SSA will not back pay you all the way back to January 2017.

If a claimant has been approved for both SSI and SSDI/DIB/ Title II, the amounts will offset. This means that he or she will receive two Award Notices—one from SSDI/DIB/Title II, and one from SSI. The amounts mentioned on these notices reflect their own calculations and not the actual total amount that will be awarded. Social Security does not “double pay” benefits, so there will be no double dipping. For example, if SSI awards $500 and SSDI awards $1000, the total amount sent will NOT be $1500. The total amount will be $1000 because the amounts offset. There may also be an offset if the claimant is receiving Workers Compensation benefits.

It is also important to note that back pay checks are issued separately than your monthly check. In many cases, claimants receive their first monthly check before they receive their back pay check. This is because the back pay check often takes longer to calculate and process. In the case of SSI, if the amount of back pay is rather large, your back pay will be sent in three installments. These installments are sent six months apart, meaning that it could take about a year to receive the entire back pay award. In the case of SSDI, it can comes all at once but could take up to 2-3 months to receive if you have been approved for both SSDI and SSI.

If you have any questions about your back pay amounts, we are here to help answer any of your questions. Call us at 210-885-3408.

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