How Far Back Will Social Security Go When Paying Benefits?
If your claim for disability benefits is approved, part of that approval is what the adjudicator has determined your “Established Date of Onset” to be. The onset date is when – according to Social Security – your disability began to hinder you and your ability to perform substantial gainful activity.
With respect to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims, the benefits can only be paid back to the date of the initial application that you are being approved for – even if your disability made it impossible for you to work before that date.
If you have been awarded Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, those benefits can be paid going all the way back to when you filed the claim and for the previous twelve months. This means that for SSDI claims, you may be found to be disabled prior to the date you filed for benefits, if you were unable to engage in substantial gainful activity.
If you have been approved for Social Security benefits after filing several (previously denied) applications and your case goes all the way to the hearing level, it is possible for the Administrative Law Judge in charge of your case to reopen one of your prior denials and create an even longer period of back pay. The fact that a prior denial can be re-opened if it was found to be an improper denial highlights the importance of telling Social Security about all of your physical and mental conditions, when they began, and which doctors you have seen. This will help Social Security get a full picture of your condition and when it started.