How far back your benefits will go depends on what type of claim you have filed, when you filed your claim, and the date your disability began. The details can get complicated.
If you only applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), your eligibility for benefits begins with the first day of the month following the date you applied.
If you applied for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits or Disabled Widow’s/Widower’s Benefits (DWB), you may be eligible for benefits up to one year before the date you applied, but only after five full months have passed since the date your disability began.
If you applied for Childhood Disability benefits (CDB) , you may be eligible for benefits for up to six months before applying. In some cases prior applications can be reopened resulting in an award of backpay beyond the limits described above.
The most you can get on SSI is $750 per month (2018). Because SSI is a welfare program, any resources or income you have may reduce your monthly payment. (This includes any SSD, DWB, or CDB you receive.)
Monthly benefits for SSD, DWB, and CDB are based on the worker’s earnings record and are determined by a complicated formula taking into account the worker’s lifetime earnings, when the claimant became disabled, and when the claimant last worked.
Some people wait to apply until they are “sure” they will qualify for benefits. Delaying an application often means losing out on past-due benefits that you might otherwise have been eligible for.
Schneider, Kerr & Robichaux