Social Security Disability Retroactive Benefits

Published on: February 28, 2011 by

Social Security Disability Retroactive Benefits

Social Security Disability benefits can be paid retroactively up to 12 months prior to a claimant’s application date if all requirements are met.  SSI benefits however are not retroactively paid before the date of the application; in other words, there is no retroactive effect of an SSI application.

For SSI applications there is an effective waiting period until the first of the next month after all requirements are met before benefits begin. For social security disability there is a five month waiting period after the onset date, the date disability began, during which no social security disability benefits are payable. Because only full months are counted, the actual waiting period is nearly always more than five months. Only when a person becomes disabled on the first day of the month is the waiting period exactly five months.

Timely Filing Your Application

These rules illustrate the importance of the timing of filing your disability application, in order to avoid losing potential benefits. File your application immediately, especially if it is near the end of the month. SSA does not count partial months when calculating benefits. For example, if you file your application on September 2, instead of September 1, you have lost the whole month of September. You can prevent this by calling the number below and requesting a “Protective Filing Date” over the phone. This will act as your filing date. You can complete the paperwork later.

How Do I Apply for Social Security Disability or SSI?

Claims are initiated by filing a claim in person at the local district and branch Social Security office or by telephone by calling (800) 772-1213. Most claimants should file for both types of benefits in the same application.  It is also possible to file online by going to  You will be asked a series of questions regarding your past work, medical conditions, education and you will need a list of your doctors and prescriptions.

Filing Online

We do not suggest filing online without an attorney’s assistance. The SSA’s online system still has a few bugs to work out and you don’t want your application lost in cyberspace. If you file in person at least you get the name of someone and a receipt for your application. Hopefully the online system will improve over

Be Descriptive

When describing your past work in your disability application, emphasize the difficult physical nature of your work.  Do not underestimate the amount of time spent standing or walking and do not underestimate the heaviest weight you had to lift at work.  If you do, this will work against you.  Describe what you actually did, not what your title said, i.e “I mowed the grass and repaired the broken fixtures” not “I was Supervisor of Facilities.” Don’t fall in love with your job title.  For more information regarding your benefits under the social security disability system, visit our website at