What is the SSDI Back Pay Calculator?

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What is the SSDI Back Pay Calculator? Frequently, if Social Security approves your disability claim, you will receive back pay.  Back pay refers to the payments for months between your application date and your approval date.  Social Security calls to your approval date as your onset date.  Sometimes, back pay can go back further than the filing date.  Several factors considered include:

  • Your disability onset date
  • Your application date
  • The five month mandatory waiting period for SSDI


Social Security offers two types of disability benefits.  To qualify for disability insurance benefits (SSDI), you must have worked a certain number of years.  To qualify for SSI, you must meet certain financial requirements.  Many times, you can qualify to apply for both types of benefits.  For example, you worked for many years.  However, once you stopped working, you no longer have an income.  You now rely on food stamps and help from family members.  Since you paid into Social Security, you can file for SSDI.  Additionally, you meet the financial requirements for SSI because you don’t have any income or assets.  You will want to use the SSDI Back Pay Calculator.

SSDI back pay

Under Social Security disability insurance benefits (SSDI), you can receive benefits back to the application date.  However, you can also qualify to receive retroactive benefits.  Retroactive benefits are paid for the months between when you became disabled and when you applied for benefits.  Additionally, retroactive benefits can go back one year before the application filing date. It is important to use the SSDI Back Pay Calculator.

Example:  SSDI back pay and retroactive benefits

For example, Sue filed for benefits on June 1, 2019.  Social Security found that she became disabled back in January 2018.  However, her retroactive benefits can only go back to June 2018, one year before she filed her application. 

SSDI Back Pay Calculator: SSDI back pay and the 5 month waiting period

Social Security does not pay back pay for the first five months after your disability began.  You start receiving benefits at the beginning of the sixth month.  Typically, the 5 month wait period can be much shorter than the time it takes for Social Security to approve your application. 

Example:  SSDI back pay and the 5 month waiting period

As another example, Don was found disabled as of January 2020.  Social Security approved Don’s claim in September 2020.  Don has to wait five months from January before his benefits start.  Therefore, his back pay goes back to June 2020.

Back pay for SSI

Unlike SSDI, Social Security doesn’t pay retroactive benefits for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  Social Security cannot pay you before your filing date.  Under SSI, back pay starts one month after the filing date. 

Example:  back pay for SSI

Sarah filed for SSI benefits in January 2020.  She told Social Security that she became disabled in August 2017.  Social Security found Sarah disabled.  However, her back pay started in February 2020, the month after she filed for SSI benefits. 

SSDI Back Pay Calculator: Back pay and your onset date

When you file for disability benefits, you tell Social Security when you became disabled.  Social Security refers to this date as your alleged onset date.  Generally, your onset date should be the date you stopped working.  It can also be the date of an injury or illness.  When Social Security finds you disabled, this date becomes your established onset date (EOD).  Your EOD also determines when your back pay starts. 

When Social Security finds a different onset date

Sometimes, your EOD doesn’t match your alleged onset date.  This happens when Social Security finds that your disability began on a different date than what you put on your application.   Common reasons Social Security finds a different EOD include:

  • A change in age categories – there are more favorable rules for disability the older you are.  Specifically, they are more favorable for people over the age of 50.  Therefore, Social Security can find you disabled once you reach the older age category. 
  • Medical records and treatment – Social Security relies on medical records to decide if you qualify for disability benefits.  So if your treatment started later, your condition worsened over time or if something new happened, Social Security can find you disabled at a later date based on your medical records. 

Example:  back pay and your EOD based on your age

For example, Donna filed for disability benefits.  She told Social Security her disability started in February 2019.  However, she turned 50 years old in September 2019.  Social Security found she met the disability requirements when she turned 50.  As a result, her back pay started in March 2020, five months after her established onset date. This is how you use the SSDI Back Pay Calculator.

Example:  back pay and your EDO based on your medical records

Gary filed for disability benefits due to back pain.  He told Social Security his disability started in October 2018, when he stopped working.  Gary didn’t start seeing a doctor until February 2019.  He continued to see his doctor regularly.  His doctor ordered an MRI of his back in March 2019.  The MRI showed severe degenerative disc disease.  Hemet the disability requirements based on the MRI report.  Therefore, his established onset date was March 2019.  His back pay started in September 2019. 

SSDI Back Pay Calculator: How does Social Security pay your back pay?

Social Security pays your back pay in lump sums.  However, Social Security releases your back pay in different ways for SSDI and SSI.  For SSDI, Social Security sends you one lump sum payment.  This includes all of your back pay and retroactive benefits.  Unlike SSDI, Social Security sends your SSI back pay in installments.  They split these installments into three payments.  Social Security sends these installments six months apart.  Social Security does this because you cannot have more than $2000 at any time in order to receive your current monthly SSI payment. 

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Many veterans are unable to earn a living because of service-connected disabilities. Congress created a special benefit called TDIU to help these veterans live comfortably. Also known as Unemployability. TDIU pays the same monthly amount as a 100% disability rating.