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If you win SSDI you can only receive 12 months in back pay?

Clearwater, FL |

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No, that is not correct. Claimants often receive 24, 36 or even more months in "back pay". One may receive benefits for up to 12 months prior to the application date for SSDI. It all depends on when the onset of disability is dated.

So, if the onset date was Jan 15, 2005; the date of application was Jan 1, 2008 and the case went through various appeals and was finally decided fully in the claimants favor on May 30, 2012 and the payment was processed on July 3, 2012; then the claimant should receive benefits for the months January 2007 through June 2012 or 66 months worth. So as the example illustrates, a claimant may receive more than 12 months in back pay.

The 12 month benefits period prior to the application date is often referred to as "retroactive benefits" rather than past-due benefits as past-due usually refers to the months the claimant is waiting for the case to be decided.

Disclaimer Information on this site is provided by Brian Scott Wayson as general information, not legal advice, and use of this information does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions about your specific situation, please call an attorney.



Why do they allow you to receive benefits from 12 months prior to filling out the application?

Brian S Wayson

Brian S Wayson


That is what the law says - meaning that in Congress there were enough votes to pass the version of the law that allows that - it's a policy choice.



Thank you

Brian S Wayson

Brian S Wayson


You are very welcome.


No. Although in most cases SSA can pay you one year back from your date of application, many cases get approved 18 months or more from the date of the application. So, hypothetically speaking, let's say a person files an initial application on January 1, 2011, alleging the person became disabled January 1, 2009. Additionally, lets say that person is denied twice by SSA, and ends up at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), on July 15, 2012. If the ALJ approves the case on July 15, 2012, and a written decision is issued on August 1, 2012, finding the person disabled since January 1, 2009, THEN, UNDER THIS HYPOTHETICAL, SSA would pay you from January 1, 2010, through August, 2012, the date of the decision in back pay (or a total of approximately, 32 months of back pay). Again, this hypothetical considers an application for Social Security Income Benefits only. Keep in mind every case is different, as well as the facts surrounding and/or impacting back pay. I strongly encourage you to contact an attorney to assist you with this an any other related matter, if not currently represented. All the best to you!


My colleagues are correct. And, on SSDi cases, if you have filed a claim before (within 4 years) then you might be able to get that old claim re-opened and and reviewed. For SSI claims, old applications up to 2 years old can be re-opened as well.

You may want to talk to an attorney in your area so you can review the specific facts with counsel. You may contact your local city, county or state bar association to see if they have a lawyer referral program, or you may contact the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) for the name and email address or telephone number of attorneys in your area. Most attorneys who do any amount of Social Security work are members of NOSSCR and provide a free initial consultation. In any event, no attorney may charge a fee for work on a social security claim until it has been approved by Social Security. The fee limit is a maximum of 25% of past due or back due benefits you are owed, and many lawyers charge less than the full 25%, and the money is not paid until your claim has been approved.

The telephone number for the lawyer referral service of NOSSCR is 1-800-431-2804. NOSSCR's website is

In addition, you can find a Board certified specialist in Social Security by contacting the National Board of Trial Advocacy. They evaluate lawyers (independently) in many types of claims and require extensive experience and testing before a lawyer is certified. They have a section specifically for Social Security: The National Board of Social Security Disability Advocacy, Divisions of the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification.

Their link is:

You may also contact NADR (National Association of Disability Representatives) – automated Telephone Referral System at 1-800-747-6131

I hope this information helps. Good luck to you!
Please remember to designate a best answer to your question.

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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