If you become disabled because of a medical condition or accident, you could need weeks or months to recover. During that time, you may be unable to work and have little to no income while you lay in the hospital or at home recovering. If you can’t go back to work, filing for Social Security Disability (SSD) may be your best option. This can provide ongoing support – but what about support for those months between the injury and the date you apply? Fayetteville Social Security Disability attorney Ken Kieklak explains when disability payments can be retroactive.
Getting SSDI Payments in Arkansas
To apply for disability in the first place, you must suffer from a condition that keeps you from being able to perform gainful employment tasks. Being unable to work because of a medical condition or a physical disability or injury can be frustrating, especially if you have no other sources of income. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the Social Security Administration (SSA)’s primary service for helping disabled Americans seek disability benefits.
SSDI is available for any worker in the US who has had a long enough career to accumulate “work credits” with the SSA. These are essentially the same Social Security benefits you would get at retirement, but SSDI allows you to claim the benefits early if you suffer from a disability. If you do not have the proper work history, you may still be able to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) instead. SSI is need-based, and it can help you if you have nowhere else to turn for support after a disability.
The SSD application process can be lengthy and frustrating. The SSA does not want to give unnecessary benefits to those who can still perform employment tasks and get substantial, gainful employment, so there may be a long vetting process. You may need to seek medical exams from doctors approved by the SSA to prove you do indeed have a condition.
The SSA keeps a list of approved conditions and illnesses. If your diagnosis falls squarely within a condition listed by the SSA, your disability may be approved. Even if your condition is not on the list, you may still be able to seek approval for your disability if it keeps you from working.
Once your application is accepted, you can begin receiving disability payments. However, many applicants wait months or longer for disability approval. Fortunately, you may be able to claim benefits for those months you waited, as well as going forward.
Can I Get Back Benefits or Retroactive Benefits for Social Security Disability?
Since the process can be very long, it is important to understand how you can get payments for the period between your disability and application, and between your application and approval. The outstanding benefits from these two periods are technically different, and usually have two different names:
- Retroactive payments are the payments made to cover the period between the start of your disability and the application date.
- Back payments are the payments made to cover the period between your application date and the date your application is accepted.
After your application is accepted, you should receive regular benefits – but getting back payments and retroactive payments depends on which disability benefits you receive.
SSI, the need-based Supplemental Security Income, covers back payments, only. That means that you should apply as soon as you can for disability to ensure that your application date is as early as possible. Once your application is accepted, you should be able to claim benefits reaching back to the application date.
SSDI, the work-based Social Security Disability Insurance, can pay both back payments and retroactive payments, reaching all the way back to the date you became disabled. When applying for SSDI, there is a 5-month waiting period. This means that even if you were well enough to apply to SSDI on the same day you became disabled, you would still have to wait 5 months. After applying, there could be an even longer period before your application is accepted. In many cases, you can still receive payments for both periods, reaching all the way back to the date you were disabled. Part of the reason you can get retroactive payments for SSDI and not SSI is so the government can reimburse you for coverage for that 5-month waiting period.
However, you must be able to prove your date of disability to get retroactive payments. This can come from doctors’ records, medical bills indicating the date of treatment, and even evidence of catastrophic injuries, e.g. from a car accident or other disabling accident.
Arkansas Disability Lawyer
Fayetteville, AR disability attorney Ken Kieklak represents disability applicants and their families. If you need help applying for disability benefits or fighting disability denials, talk to an attorney today. Call our law offices today at (479) 439-1843 to schedule your free consultation and start receiving the support you need with your disability application.