If you’ve gone through the long and arduous process of applying for Social Security Disability (SSDI), then you understand the old saying, “Nothing worth having comes easy.” If that saying wasn’t originally written to talk about applying for disability, it should have, because it is certainly not an easy process.
However, if you’ve made it through to the other side and you’ve finally received your approval for disability benefits, then congratulations! You’ve managed to accomplish something that a lot of applicants have not been able to do: getting approved. But are your troubles over now? Not completely, because now you’ve got to wait until that first disability payment finally arrives. And, unfortunately, this is sometimes a long wait.
Why? Chalk it up to government bureaucracy at its finest, or a backlog of applications and payments the SSA has to sort out. Either way it’s going to take a little bit of time before that check arrives. How long? Well, it’s not uncommon for applicants to have to wait a month or two before getting their first payment. In some cases, it can take even longer than that. However, the Social Security Administration recommends that you wait 90 days before contacting them. If it has been 90 days and you have not received your first payment, or you have not been contacted by the SSA about the problem, then you should reach out to the SSA and make sure there are no problems that need to be corrected.
The good news about all this is that no matter how long it takes for that first payment to arrive, you are technically getting payments from the start of your approval. This means that, once the SSA has sorted out all the numbers in your case, you will be entitled to a little bit of back pay. “Back pay” is the term that refers to the money you should have received in the time between getting approval for disability benefits, and getting your first disability check.
So, if it takes two months for that first payment, you should expect to receive a back pay payment at some point with the amount of money to cover those two missing months. If you’re on the unlucky side and your first payment takes longer, your back pay will reflect that and be even larger to compensate for the missed months. Typically, it takes back payments another month or two to arrive after your regular payments start.
You might also be eligible to receive retro pay. “Retro pay” is the term for the money you could have earned in payments if you had applied, or been approved earlier. It’s too complicated to go into here, but basically the SSA will sometimes issue retro payments for someone who has clearly needed disability for a while, but only recently finally got approval.
One more thing to know about your payments: if you hired the services of a disability advocate, such as an attorney, then their fee is specifically supposed to come out of your back pay. Usually, the SSA does this automatically so you don’t have to do a thing, but it’s always a good idea to check and make sure there were no mistakes. The fees should only come out of your back pay, never your regular pay, and should not exceed 25% of the total back pay amount.
If you have any other questions about SSDI payments or the application process, please dont’ hesitate to contact us today!