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How are Social Security Disability and Backpayments Calculated?

Published on December 1st, 2016

If you have applied for Social Security Disability, or are even considering applying, then it’s important to know what you can expect in the long run. Depending on a number of factors, you may be able to collect not only benefits, but a substantial amount of backpay that will help get you through the financial hardships caused by your condition.

How are Social Security Disability and Backpayments Calculated

The actual formula used to calculate your benefit amounts is rather complicated and lengthy, and depends on a number of factors. Most important to know, though, is that disability benefits, like Social Security payments in general, are based on your income history and social security taxes up to the present, not on the severity of your injury, or how much money you were making before you were hurt. While it’s impossible to tell you exactly how much you would get, here are some numbers: in 2016, most recipients of SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) are currently receiving somewhere between $700 and $1,700, and the average monthly payment is $1,166. The maximum benefit amount possible this year is $2,639.

If you are applying for SSDI, you should also be aware that you are most likely entitled to backpayments. How this works is very simple: your “disability onset date” is the date you became disabled. There is a mandatory five-month waiting period after that date before you are eligible for benefits. Once those five months have passed, then from that moment on, you are eligible for benefits, even if you haven’t submitted an application or received confirmation of benefits yet. You don’t want to wait those five months before submitting your application, though, because it generally takes much longer than five months to get your application approved.

So, what does that mean? Consider this scenario: you are injured on January 1 of a certain year. Because of the five-month waiting period, you are not able to receive SSDI until May 1 of that year. Like I mentioned earlier, you want to fill out an application ASAP anyway, because it will take a while. So, you fill out the application in February. The application is accepted, and benefits are officially awarded in September of that year. Well, since you were injured in January, you are not eligible to receive payments for those first five months. You are, however, able to receive backpayments for June, July, and August. The backpayment amount will be however much your monthly benefit is times however many months you are owed, and it is typically all paid at one time. So, depending on the amount you are owed, you could receive a nice, healthy payment that will go quite a long ways towards paying those medical expenses.

We hope you never have to file for SSDI benefits, but if you do, it’s nice to know that you may be entitled to those backpayments. For more questions or help in applying for SSDI benefits, please contact us today.


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