§ 404.621. What happens if I file after the first month I meet the requirements for benefits?
(a) Filing for disability benefits and for old-age, survivors', or dependents' benefits. (1) If you file an application for disability benefits, widow's or widower's benefits based on disability, or wife's, husband's, or child's benefits based on the earnings record of a person entitled to disability benefits, after the first month you could have been entitled to them, you may receive benefits for up to 12 months immediately before the month in which your application is filed. Your benefits may begin with the first month in this 12-month period in which you meet all the requirements for entitlement. Your entitlement, however, to wife's or husband's benefits under this rule is limited by paragraph (a)(3) of this section.
(2) If you file an application for old-age benefits, widow's or widower's benefits not based on disability, wife's, husband's, or child's benefits based on the earnings record of a person not entitled to disability benefits, or mother's, father's, or parent's benefits, after the first month you could have been entitled to them, you may receive benefits for up to 6 months immediately before the month in which your application is filed. Your benefits may begin with the first month in this 6-month period in which you meet all the requirements for entitlement. Your entitlement, however, to old-age, wife's, husband's, widow's, or widower's benefits under this rule is limited by paragraph (a)(3) of this section.
(3) If the effect of the payment of benefits for a month before the month you file would be to reduce your benefits because of your age, you cannot be entitled to old-age, wife's, husband's, widow's, or widower's benefits for any month before the month in which your application is filed, unless you meet one of the conditions in paragraph (a)(4) of this section. (An explanation of the reduction that occurs because of age if you are entitled to these benefits for a month before you reach full retirement age, as defined in § 404.409, is in § 404.410.) An example follows that assumes you do not meet any of the conditions in paragraph (a)(4) of this section.
Example: You will attain full retirement age in March 2003. If you apply for old-age benefits in March, you cannot be entitled to benefits in the 6-month period before March because the payment of benefits for any of these months would result in your benefits being reduced for age. If you do not file your application until June 2003, you may be entitled to benefits for the month of March, April and May because the payment of benefits for these months would not result in your benefits being reduced for age. You will not, however, receive benefits for the 3 months before March.
(4) The limitation in paragraph (a)(3) of this section on your entitlement to old-age, wife's, husband's, widow's, or widower's benefits for months before you file an application does not apply if:
(i) You are a widow, widower, surviving divorced wife, or surviving divorced husband who is disabled and could be entitled to retroactive benefits for any month before age 60. If you could not be entitled before age 60, the limitation will prevent payment of benefits to you for past months, but it will not affect the month you become entitled to hospital insurance benefits.
(ii) You are a widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse of the insured person who died in the month before you applied and you were at least age 60 in the month of death of the insured person on whose earnings record you are claiming benefits. In this case, you can be entitled beginning with the month the insured person died if you choose and if you file your application on or after July 1, 1983.
(b) Filing for lump-sum death payment. An application for a lump-sum death payment must be filed within 2 years after the death of the person on whose earnings record the claim is filed. There are two exceptions to the 2-year filing requirement:
(1) If there is a good cause for failure to file within the 2-year period, we will consider your application as though it were filed within the 2-year period. Good cause does not exist if you were informed of the need to file an application within the 2-year period and you neglected to do so or did not desire to make a claim. Good cause will be found to exist if you did not file within the time limit due to—
(i) Circumstances beyond your control, such as extended illness, mental or physical incapacity, or a language barrier;
(ii) Incorrect or incomplete information we furnished you;
(iii) Your efforts to get evidence to support your claim without realizing that you could submit the evidence after filing an application; or
(iv) Unusual or unavoidable circumstances which show that you could not reasonably be expected to know of the time limit.
(2) The Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act of 1940 provides for extending the filing time.
(c) Filing for a period of disability. You must file an application for a period of disability while you are disabled or no later than 12 months after the month in which your period of disability ended. If you were unable to apply within the 12-month time period because of a physical or mental condition, you may apply not more than 36 months after your disability ended. The general rule we use to decide whether your failure to file was due to a physical or mental condition is stated in § 404.322.
(d) Filing after death of person eligible for disability benefits or period of disability. If you file for disability benefits or a period of disability for another person who died before filing an application and you would qualify under § 404.503(b) to receive any benefits due the deceased, you must file an application no later than the end of the third month following the month in which the disabled person died.
[68 FR 4711, Jan. 30, 2003, as amended at 83 FR 21709, May 10, 2018]