What is Disability (SSDI) Back Pay in Arkansas?

When you receive disability (SSDI) benefits, you may have to go through a waiting period and take time to file your claim.  This could mean waiting weeks or months before you start receiving benefits.  In some cases, you may get paid retroactively, receiving all benefits you were entitled to back to the date your disability started.  Back pay and retroactive benefits can be important for those on disability, and Fayetteville AR disability lawyer Ken Kieklak explains how you might be entitled to receive these benefits.

Can You Get Back Pay for Disabilities in Arkansas?

When we discuss “back pay” for disability benefits, we’re not talking about missed wages.  In fact, disability applicants can only receive benefits if their condition prevents them from working.  Instead, “back pay” refers to back payments for disability benefits that date back to your application.

In most disability cases, you can receive back pay for disabilities.  When you receive a serious injury or realize you can no longer work because of a health problem, it is rare to apply immediately for disability benefits on the same day.  This means that there is a period between when you discover your disability and when you apply.  The delays caused by the application and approval process create a second period of delays between when you apply for payments and when your application is finally accepted and the benefits begin.

Payments you receive to cover the delay after you submitted your application are known as “back pay” under the SSA’s definitions.  These benefits are available in any disability case.  This means that the time it takes the SSA to examine your application and decide whether you qualify for disability benefits should not count against you.  Instead, you should be able to get these benefits after the fact, reaching all the way back to the date you applied for SSDI.

“Back Pay” Vs. “Retroactive Benefits” for Disability Benefits

When you apply for disability, there are two different programs.  The first type is SSDI (disability insurance) which pays benefits based on your work record.  The second is a need-based disability program (SSI).  When receiving SSDI or need-based benefits, you can receive “back pay” back to the application date.  However, SSDI can also enable you to receive benefits that date back to the date of injury.

With SSDI, there is a 5-month waiting period after the injury.  You cannot apply during this period, and you will not be able to receive benefits – yet.  After your application is accepted, the SSA will also pay benefits reaching back to the date of your injury or the onset of your condition.  These benefits are referred to as “retroactive benefits,” since they retroactively cover the periods before you applied.  Disability commonly pays both “back pay” benefits and “retroactive benefits,” whereas other disability programs may not pay you anything to cover periods before you applied.

Because the 5-month waiting period is a part of the administrative process, it would be unfair to prevent you from claiming these benefits.  However, you must meet the requirements for applying for disability.  SSDI’s disability program requires you to have a certain work history to support your benefits.  This means that if you did not work or you have not worked long enough to accrue work credits, you must apply to a different program.  Alternatively, you can apply on your spouse’s work record (or use your parent’s work record if you are under 22 years old and qualify for disability).

Calculating Back Pay for SSDI Applicants

SSDI benefits are capped at certain amounts based on your previous work history, before your disability.  The formula for calculating benefits is quite complex and deals with a number of standard calculations to transform your average wage into a monthly benefit.  This amount gets adjusted for inflation and the cost of living.  The average disability benefit for 2018 is $1,197 per month, and the maximum disability payment is $2,788 per month.  You may receive additional benefits for your children and spouse, but these are subject to lowered limitations.

Back pay is awarded at the same rate as your ongoing benefits.  This means that you should be able to calculate back pay by multiplying your current disability payments by the number of months between your application date and the date the SSA accepted your disability application.

Retroactive benefits are calculated the same way, but you use the period between the beginning of your disability and the application date.  These benefits may be different from your current benefits if you applied or became disabled in a previous calendar year that used different calculations.

Fayetteville Disability Lawyer Offering Free Consultations

Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, is an Arkansas disability attorney that helps injured and disabled workers file for disability benefits.  For help with your application process or help fighting disability denials, call our law offices today at (479) 316-0438.