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Lump sums in the Social Security Administration

Lindenhurst, NY |

I filed for disability I'm in the process of appealing the disability. I was given a partial decision by a ALJ.

I'm collecting SSI right now. I'm owed $6,000 something in retro from the SSI.
They say they have to pay it in payments /installments every 6 months. Why is that?

Is there any way to get in a lump sum?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. After winning their SSI disability claims, many claimants are shocked to learn that Social Security is not paying out the entire back due benefit in one lump sum. In many claims with large past-due benefits, the claimant only receives $2,000.00 in back pay upon a win, $2,000.00 six months later, and the remaining past-due balance another six months later.

    Claimants will tell me, “But that’s my money. They’ve admitted that I’m owed the money. I want it all at once. I don’t want it broken up into three payments over the course of a year.”

    However, Social Security is permitted to and in fact is required to issue large past-due benefits in the three installments, six months apart. But you should know that there are some limited exceptions to this general rule. It is possible to receive all of the back pay at once, or a larger installment payment.

    Social Security may pay all of the back pay in one lump sum to a claimant who:

    is terminally ill and is not expected to live longer than 12 months; or
    is not currently eligible for SSI and is likely to remain ineligible for 12 more months.

    Moreover, Social Security may make a larger installment payment to a claimant who has debts or expenses that are not eligible to be paid by anyone else. Social Security may possibly increase your payment by the amount of current outstanding debts you may have related to food, clothing, shelter, medicine or medically necessary services, supplies or equipment, or the purchase of a home. You should present such obligations to your local Social Security office and they may release more than the $2,000.00 initial and interim installment payments.

    This comment is published by and reflects the personal views of Nick Ortiz, in his individual capacity. It does not necessarily represent the views of his law firm or his clients, and is not sponsored or endorsed by them. The purpose of this comment site is to assist in dissemination of information about disability law, but no representation is made about the accuracy of the information. The information contained in this comment is provided only as general information for education purposes. The tips and suggestions contained in this comment may not be appropriate for your individual case. Please do not accept anything in this comment as legal advice unless and until you have hired me to represent you in your claim for benefits, and I have agreed – in writing – to represent you. By using this website you understand that this information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to constitute legal advice. This comment should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state.


  2. I agree with my colleague, Mr. Ortiz. My experience has been that most claimants who went all the way to hearing and are granted ssd benefits, then found eligible for ssi as well, are owed so much money because of the time that has passed that the back payments are spread out over time in accordance with applicable law. Unfortunately, unless you meet the criteria set forth by Mr. Ortiz, you will have to wait for payment over time. Good luck.

    The author of this posting is licensed to practice law in the State of New York. This posting is intended as general information only, is not provided as legal advice in connection with any specific case, and should not be construed to create an attorney-client relationship.


  3. My colleagues are correct. The short answer is that except for a few limited circumstances they will notelease the money early.

    You said you got a partially favorable decision from the ALJ. Did you have an attorney? If so, did they explain that on appeal the Appeals Council could deny your claim, could send it bacjk for a new hearing, or could decide to take away what the ALJ awarded? If you did not have an attorney, you may want to sit down with an attorney to discuss this in more detail. The Appeals Coucil currently denies about 80% of all claims, and has been more aggressive about accepting appeals, opening up the whole claim and sending everything back for a new decision. There are risks involved and you should talk to an attorney about those risks.

    Best of luck to you!

    The exact answers to questions like this require more information than presented. The answer(s) provided should be considered general information. The information provided by this is general advice, and is not legal advice. Viewing this information is not intended to create, and does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. It is intended to educate the reader and a more definite answer should be based on a consultation with a lawyer. You should not take any action that might affect your claim without first seeking the professional opinion of an attorney. You should consult an attorney who can can ask all the appropriate questions and give legal advice based on the exact facts of your situation. The general information provided here does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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