Is it too late for file for last year's disability benefits, or retroactive benefits?

I read about retroactive benefits on your website but I am not sure if it answers my question regarding disability from last year. I was on STD from May until August 5 last year & just found out I could have qualified & filed for SSDI. Is it too late to apply for last year's benefits?

No, it is not "necessarily" too late to apply for last year's benefits as you put it. But it depends on which program your disability claim is taken in. For SSI, the answer is no. SSI does not have retroactive benefits and you can only receive back pay from the time you filed your application. The clock starts ticking from the date of an SSI application.

So, it is always good, if you believe you are disabled, to get the claim filed as soon as possible. Ultimately, how much back pay you can receive will depend on how long it takes to get approved, which will often involve a disability application and one or more appeals.

If your disability application is filed under SSD, or Social Security Disability, you can actually get back pay benefits for 12 retroactive months prior to the date of your SSD application. Five of those months will be wiped out by something known as the five month waiting period, of course. But at least, in the case of an application for SSD, you can actually get disability benefits for a time before you actually filed, i.e. retroactive benefits and, as you put it "last year's benefits".

Mind you, this is all contingent on filing and getting approved for SSD versus SSI, and having your medical evidence actually establish that you meet the requirements of disability for title II Social Security Disability.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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