Just like most areas of law, the answer is that it depends….
For SSI benefits, (need based) you are eligible to receive payments the first full month following the month you applied.* That means if you apply in January 2015, it does not matter if you prove you became disabled in October 2014 or October 1998, your benefits cannot begin prior to February 2015, the first full month after you filed your application.
SSI comes with Medicaid for free and you are eligible for this from the very moment you qualify for payments.
How much you receive depends upon you and your resources. Because SSI is need based, any income, assets, or financial assistance you receive will decrease your SSI benefit amount. In 2015, the maximum amount of SSI benefits is $733 per month.
For SSDI benefits, the answer is more complex. Your back pay can begin either, (1) 5 months after you stopped working if you file for benefits within a year from when you quit working, or; (2) if you stopped working over a year prior to filing, your SSDI benefits can only go back a year prior to your filing date. So if you file for benefits January 10, 2015 and you last worked August 10, 2014, (less than a year before you file) your benefits would begin February 1, 2015. That is 5 FULL months after you filed. If you file for SSDI benefits on January 10, 2015 and you last worked in 2013, (more than a year before you file), your benefits can go back to February 2014, 12 full months prior to your filing date.*
SSDI comes with Medicare benefits, but eligibility doesn’t begin until 24 months after you became entitled to SSDI payments & it is not free once you become eligible. Using the above scenarios, if you are eligible to receive benefits in August 2014, you become Medicare eligible in August 2016. If you are eligible for benefits in February 2014, you become Medicare eligible in February 2016.
How much you receive depends entirely on your work history. SSDI is, in essence, your full retirement benefit, just paid to you earlier. So they look at your earnings history to determine how much you will receive.
- There are instances where SSA can re-open prior applications to give you more back benefits, please call our office for additional information about this.