Did You Know? Social Security Backpay


DID YOU KNOW? A question we often get from Social Security clients is, “If I’m awarded, how much will I draw each month and how much back pay will I get?”

When you file for Social Security benefits, you are asked to provide an “onset date” for your disability. This is the date you feel you became disabled. There are no right or wrong answers, it’s simply the date you feel that the evidence in your case will show you were no longer able to work. For some people, its the last day they worked. For some people, its the day they applied for benefits. Sometimes, its the date of a specific injury or diagnoses.

We help you prove to Social Security that you are disabled. The Social Security judge (“ALJ”) determines two things: 1) if you are disabled, and if yes, 2) the date you became disabled. In determining the date you became disabled, the ALJ will consider the onset date you provided, your medical records, your testimony and arguments from your representative and pick a date he or she feels is supported by the evidence in your case.

After an award is made, the Social Security administration itself determines how much your monthly benefit is. Neither the ALJ or your attorney have any input in this. For SSI, there is a set amount. For Disability, it is based upon what you have paid in.

After your monthly benefit is determined, Social Security will back up and pay you that benefit for every month that has passed since the ALJ found you became disabled.

For example, assume Client A is in a bad car wreck on January 1, 2015. He applies for Social Security in January and says he became disabled the date of the wreck, January 1, 2015. He tries physical therapy from January to March, which does not help, and so thereafter he treats monthly for his injuries. On June 1, 2015, he has a bad fall at home and, because he was already injured, he the fall is especially hard on him and he has back surgery the same day as his fall, June 1, 2015. He has a hearing on January 1, 2016 in front of ALJ Kirk. ALJ Kirk says that Client A is disabled and his disability began on January 1, 2015, the date of the wreck, like Client A said. After he is found disabled, Social Security says that Client A will draw $1500 per month. His back would be $18,000 (12 months x $1500 per month).

Even though he said he was disabled on January 1, 2015, ALJ Kirk could find that Client A was not disabled until the June 1, 2015 fall because only then was his impairment severe enough to preclude work. The ALJ justifies this by saying that surgery was the event that triggered disability. Even though the problem started 6 months before, when Client A claims, the ALJ has discretion to do this. In this scenario, the back pay is $9,000 (6 months x $1500 per month).

As you might imagine, the interplay between dates, laws, regulations and evidence can get very complicated very fast. Small changes can make big differences. It pays to have someone you can trust to fight with you, and for you! Should you have any questions, give us a call.

Disclaimer: If you or someone you know was injured as a result of the negligence of another, call one of our offices. We have a team of highly skilled lawyers standing by to assist you. This article is for informative purposes only and is no substitute for advice with an attorney fully informed about the facts of a specific matter. This does not constitute an offer of representation nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT.