In my work as a Detroit disability attorney, I help individuals whose initial claim for benefits has been denied. Most of my clients have been waiting for a decision on their claim for quite some time. They want to know, “If Social Security determines I am disabled, how far back will my benefits go?” The short answer to this question is that a disabled individual is entitled to receive benefits from the date of his or her application and for up to 12 months prior to that date. Exactly when your benefits will begin, however, depends on the following:
Application date: This is the date you complete your application for Social Security disability benefits.
Onset date: This is the date you became “disabled,” as that term is defined by Social Security. The medical evidence in your case is the key factor in determining your onset date. Your work history and the date you claim you became disabled also will be considered; however, these factors will only be given significant consideration if they are consistent with the severity of your condition, as demonstrated by your medical records.
Waiting period: Social Security imposes a 5-month waiting period on all applicants for benefits. That is, no benefits are paid for the first five full calendar months after your onset date. The waiting period works to prevent Social Security from paying benefits to individuals with short-term disabilities. Practically speaking, because only full months are counted towards the waiting period, payment of benefits usually begins with the sixth full month after your onset date.
Taking all these factors into consideration, your benefits will begin either five full months after your onset date or 12 months prior to your application date, whichever is later.