For workers who cannot perform the duties of their job due to a medical or mental condition, the Social Security Administration (SSA) might be able to help — at least financially. Workers who have earned enough money in a certain period of time may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). It can take applicants some time to be approved and begin receiving the monthly payments, unfortunately. Read on to find out how the SSA seeks to alleviate the gap in time with back pay.

What to Know About SSDI

Many people get confused about two SSA programs, SSDI and SSI. SSI (Social Security Income) is similar to SSDI but is meant for those who do not have enough time worked to qualify. Also, SSI recipients usually earn very little income and own very little property. For those who have worked enough, however, the SSA places additional evaluations on applicants that rise above the level required for SSI. For former workers, you must prove that your medical or mental condition negatively affects your ability to do the tasks required of your job. For example, if you have a hurt back, you may not be able to drive a forklift, work on an assembly line, stand for long periods of time, etc. There must a direct connection between the affliction and the tasks required of the most recent job held.

The Date of Onset

Workers should apply for SSDI as soon as they stop working at their jobs due to an affliction. The application will ask you about the dates when your affliction began and the date you stopped working. You may be able to receive retroactive pay dating back to when you first began being affected. In most cases, workers receive benefits based on the date of last insurance (DTI), which is the final day of work. Once the onset date is established and your benefits are approved, back pay can be calculated.

How Back Pay Is Calculated

The date of onset and the date when you are finally approved for benefits can be months apart. Those months are eligible for back pay. Unfortunately, the SSA imposes a five-month waiting period on recipients which means that five months of back pay is automatically deducted from the total received. Back pay is paid upon approval and comes to the recipient in a single lump-sum payment.

In some cases, applicants disagree with the onset date and lose valuable back pay. In many situations, hurt workers are denied the benefits they need. If either of those things happens, speak to a Social Security lawyer about appealing the denial. With a lawyer's help at the appeal hearing, you can be approved for benefits and back pay.

Reach out to a Social Security Disability lawyer for more information.