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As soon as you know that you have a condition which prevents you from being able to work, you should apply for benefits. The process of applying for benefits and getting a decision on your claim can take some time. Additionally, if you are approved, there will be a five-month waiting period between your date of disability and the first date on which you can be paid. Also, the Social Security Administration (SSA) pays back benefits for only a maximum of 12 months prior to your application date for an SSDI claim.