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Social security disability benefits (SSDI) can be paid back to the date of application and up to 12 months retroactive to this date.
SSDI does have a five month waiting period.

The part that gets confusing is "and up to 12 months retroactive to this date" The 12 months retroactive they are referring to centers around the application date, not 12 months from the time an approval is issued.

If a claimant filed four years ago (and the onset date was established as such) the claimant would be entitled to multiple years of back pay assuming they meet all the criteria.

If a person's disability started more than a year prior to their date of application, the SSA will only pay retro back to one year of the appplication date.

An example of retro: John Smith became disabled in June 2003 but actually didn't apply for SSDI until June 2005. Because John waited to file two years after he became disabled, the SSA will only pay him retro back one year, going back to 2004.
If John finally gets approved in the year of 2007, his back pay would be calculated starting with the year of 2004, thus collecting back pay for three years.

I hope this helps, I tried my best to explain as back pay can be very confusing.
Maybe I am misunderstanding the explaination of the retro pay. I understood that if approved you would get paid back to the date you filed minus the 5 month waiting period and it could go back as much as 12 months prior to the date you filed? I don't know if anyone out there has had the following situation happen but I would love to hear from you if you have. My husband was hurt on the job back in Sept, 1989. Once we saw the extent of his injuries we immediately filed for Social Security Disability. He required two back surgeries and 4 fusions in his neck. He was turned down twice. Upon appeals we finally got an ALJ hearing in March of 1994. We literally had a quack judge who after hearing the case stated "surely the neurosurgeon would not have done surgery to render you disabled, so he found my husband disabled from the date of injury up to the date of the hearing (a partial decision) but considered him no longer disabled even though he had all of the fusions limited mobility in his neck and severe pain in neck, back and down legs. He was given his back pay from the time we filed minus the 5 month waiting period. We immediately appealed this and was turned down again. by this time it was 1995. We opened a new claim and received a letter 1 year later that they were having to bring in more judges on a temporary basis because they were so backlogged on these cases. We then heard from our attorney that the judge who heard his case in 1994 was in a mental institution (seriously) which was not hard to understand because he was one weird dude, asking stupid questions and laughing outloud several times. Anyway, finally in 1997 (over 7 years from initially filing but 2 1/2 years after the new filing) he had a hearing and that one went so smooth. He was basically told in a round about way that he was approved. Then the bad news. They told us he did not qualify because he had to have worked 5 out of the last 10 years. When we filed the new claim (which was the only option we had) he did not qualify now for SSDI because he had not worked the quarters needed within the last 10 years. We did not fully understand how we could be held responsible for a delayed process that was out of our hands. Our lawyer appealed it to a higher court and we lost. My husband was given SSI until the point that I made to much money for him to qualify. NOW HERE's THE GOOD PART. This past Sept 27th, we received a call from out local Social Security office that my husband's case was in with their review cases but it was unusual that it was that old (13 years, maybe because of all of my letters to every politician I could send a letter to). The worker stated that he should have been receiving a SSDI check all along in addition to the SSI. She said he would be re-instated and now since it had been so long would automatically start receiving Medicare. I asked about the back pay and she said he would get it back to the date he started receiving SSI which was April of 1994. We called to get an update the beginning of Nov. and it was in the Quality review status. Sixty days to the day we received a letter in the mail to fill out for Prescription assistance and you could only apply for that if you were approved for Medicare. I called the worker in our local office and found out he was definately approved but it had not made it to payment yet. Today she told us that we should get all of the payment within 30 days. We are in a state of shock to say the least. All these years of struggling and having two kids who never had things a lot of others could have. KEEP PUSHING FOR WHAT YOU DESERVE.....but I hope you all don't have to go through what we indured. God Bless!!!

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