When you are approved for Social Security disability benefits, your first payment typically comes in the month the decision is issued. Along with your new monthly payments, you may also collect what is known as “back pay” or past due benefits.

Your Amount of Benefit Back Pay Depends on Certain Dates

The date you file your Social Security disability benefit application is generally the beginning of the period during which your back pay benefits are calculated. This period ends in the month before the Social Security Administration (SSA) effectuates your benefits. Once your benefits have been approved, you will receive the regular monthly benefit as well as back payment of the benefits you would have earned from the time your application was first submitted.

When the SSA makes the decision of whether or not you are disabled, it may determine an onset date. This is the date upon which you would have first been declared disabled, such as the day you received the diagnosis of your condition. If you have been given an onset date your benefit back pay will be calculated based upon this date as the start of your back pay period.

If you appeal a decision on your SSD claim and win the appeal, it may change your date of entitlement for your benefit back pay. If this occurs, the new date of entitlement will be used to recalculate your past-due benefits.

Payment of Past-Due Benefits

Once the amount of past-due benefits is calculated the SSA may use part of the lump sum to pay the fees of a representative authorized to assist in your SSD claim, i.e., your attorney.

You will receive the full or remaining balance of the benefit back pay if the representative:

  • waives the fee;
  • fails to file a fee petition; or
  • the fee for the representative is less than the past due benefits withheld.


If your benefit back pay is for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), benefits may be paid in installments if the amount of the full past-due benefits exceeds three times the current maximum individual Federal Benefit Rate. If this occurs, no more than three installment payments will be made to reach the full past-due benefit amount.

Protect Your Right to Benefit Back Pay with an Attorney’s Help

One of the mistakes many Social Security disability applicants make is that they fail to seek the disability back pay to which they are entitled. Claimants who work with a Social Security disability attorney do not have to worry about missing out on these additional funds. A knowledgeable attorney knows to seek past-due benefits in every case.

At Markhoff & Mittman in New York, our disability attorneys explore every type of disability compensation and services that are available to our clients. To learn more about the benefits to which you may be entitled, contact our offices to schedule a free consultation: 866-205-2415 or (866) 205-2415.