How to Get SSI Backpay Faster: A Quick Guide

If you’ve already been approved for SSI, you’re probably expecting your backpay anytime soon. Unfortunately, the SSA isn’t really known for expedited processes. So you may have to wait for a few months (or years) to receive your back pay.

But if you can’t work and don’t have any source of income, such a delay can have a huge financial impact. For some, it can mean having to forego a meal or turning off the heating in winter. While for others, it can mean the difference between sleeping in a comfortable bed or on the cold pavement.

Fear not. There’s a way to get your backpay on time. Here’s a quick guide on how to get SSI backpay faster.

Understanding Social Security Backpay

In a nutshell, SSI backpay is the amount you should have received had your SSI claim been approved on the day you applied.

As you know, social security claims usually take time to process. According to the SSA, benefit claims generally take around 3 to 5 months to get a decision. So if you applied in say, January, chances are you’ll get your benefits in May.

As per SSA policy, your SSI benefits will begin on the first full month on the date the claim was filed or on the day you become eligible for SSI.

Continuing with the example above, your benefits should have started in February (a month after you applied). However, your first SSI check didn’t arrive until May. This means that the SSA owes you benefits for the months of February, March, and April. This is what constitutes your SSI backpay.

What you need to know, however, is that your backpay will not form part of your first SSI check. It will be given in installments, especially if it involves a large amount. Though there are instances that the SSA allows lump sum payment for SSI backpay.

Why Is It Taking So Long to Get Your Disability Backpay?

There are two main reasons why processing SSI or even SSDI claims usually take a long time.

For one, the SSA doesn’t have enough manpower to process all the applications they receive every single year. In 2020 alone, they awarded benefits to 5.8 million new recipients. Considering that it’s only a portion of the applications they received, you can just imagine what they have to contend with.

Another factor that affects the claims processing time is the availability of your supporting documents. Not filling up the application form completely or submitting incomplete medical records can delay the evaluation and approval process.

Obviously, the earlier your claim is approved, the faster you’ll get your backpay. Any delay in the approval process can also hold up your backpay.

Someone filling up the Social Security benefit form.

How to Get SSI Back Pay Faster

If you really need the money now, here’s how to get your SSI back pay faster:

1. Opt for a Lumpsum Payment

As mentioned, the SSA only pays SSI backpay through installment. This is paid in six months intervals but shall not exceed more than three payments. But if you can apply for an exception to this installment policy, you can get your SSI backpay faster.

The SSA, however, only allows lumpsum back payments if the recipient:

  • has a medical condition that is expected to result in death within the next 12 months;
  • is no longer eligible for SSI and is likely to remain so for the next 12 months

If you can prove that you meet the above conditions, the SSA will release your backpay in full.

2. Increase the First and Second Installment Payments

According to the SSA, the first and second installment of your SSI backpay should not exceed the current maximum monthly SSI payment. Any amount left will be given in the third tranche.

For instance, let’s say your total backpay is $3,000. The SSI limit for 2022 is $841 for eligible individuals. This means that your first and second installment payments shall not be more than $841. The third tranche, however, will be $1,318.

But if you’re pressed for money, you can request the SSA to increase your first and second installment payments. The SSA usually allows such requests if you can prove that:

  • you have outstanding debts related to food, clothing, shelter, medications, and medical bills
  • expenses relating to medically necessary services and supplies, the purchase of a home, a car, mobile phone, or computer as long as it can be considered a “necessity” for you

Know, however, that this is only applicable for expenses that are non-reimbursable by other public assistance programs.

3. Apply for Emergency Advance Payment

An emergency advance payment is a one-time payment to eligible SSI claimants who are facing a financial emergency.

The good thing about this is you can apply for an emergency advance payment even if your claim is yet to be approved. As long as you can demonstrate that you have a high chance of getting approved for SSI, then you can qualify for emergency advance payment.

You can receive either the full amount of your backpay or the amount requested for the financial emergency, whichever is lower. However, it must not exceed the maximum SSI limit for that year.

(Related: Applying For SSI in Florida? Here’s What You Need to Know)

VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney

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About The Author

Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.