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Applying for Social Security Insurance (SSI) benefits and awaiting the first check can be a lengthy and wearying process. To recognize the long wait between submitting an application and receiving payment, the Social Security Administration (SSA) allows for back pay to applicants who prove eligible for SSI benefits. If a claimant is denied SSI in Maryland or needs assistance understanding back pay, a Maryland disability representative can assist in these matters.

To determine eligibility for back pay, the SSA looks at the original SSI application filing date and the disability onset date. For SSI, the applicant is eligible for monies retroactive to the first month following the application filing. The exception occurs when the start of a disability falls after the application date. Exceptions hold true in cases where the date of disability onset is estimated. In these cases, payments are retroactive to the date of disability onset which is based on medical history and doctor input.

Once eligibility is determined, back pay of unpaid SSI benefits is determined. The SSA withholds overpayments and penalties assessed on the applicant from the repayment amount. After calculating back pay, lesser amounts are issued in a lump sum. For larger quantities, installments are required. The total payment due the applicant must be paid out in no more than three installments and will occur at six-month intervals.

An increase in payments can be requested (within the amount owed) by the applicant if he or she has outstanding debt, or expected medical expenses or plans to purchase a home. A request for an increase can be made by the applicant and granted by SSI at any time. Also, an applicant can request to opt out of installments if the medical condition is expected to result in death within 12 months or if he or she is no longer SSI eligible and likely not to be so for the next year. In these cases, back pay would be awarded in one payment. A legal advocate can assist in understanding these and other particular circumstances.

As indicated, the arrival of back payments will not occur until after the first SSI award check as eligibility must be determined first. The lump sum amount or first installment payment can be expected one month to several months after the initial SSI award check. Questions regarding this can be directed to a local social security office or a legal advocate.

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