As long as you filed within a year of leaving work (within 18 months, actually, but within 1 year will work just fine), then here's what they can do if they find you were disabled:
1) Count five FULL months from when you left work the first time. Partial months don't count. That's your waiting period for SS benefits. So let's say you left work January 15, 2010. Five full months takes you to July 1. That's what we call your "date of entitlement." As long as you filed your claim within a year of that date, you can potentially receive back pay going back to then.
2) If you're approved for a "closed period" of disability, they can pay you from your "date of entitlement" to the end of the month before the month you returned to work. Let's say you went back to work earlier this year, on June 15, 2012. You could get back pay from July 1, 2010 all the way up to May 31, 2012 (23 months).
3) As long as you had at least one dependent child under age 18 (or under 19 and still in high school) during that time, the kids would receive a total (between the two of them) equal to approximately 50% of your benefit, in most cases. This depends on your earnings record, though, so I can't tell you exactly how much you'd get. There wouldn't be anything extra for your wife, most likely. There's a "family maximum" of benefits, so there usually isn't more money paid for 3 people than there is for 1 person.
As the other attorneys' answers noted, there are also issues here about trial work periods, potential unsuccessful work attempts, and all sorts of other little rules that can't be fully explained here. I recommend you hire an attorney before your hearing, and discuss all of this with him or her.
Jeremy Bordelon is a licensed attorney in the State of Tennessee only, and is authorized to practice in all Tennessee State and Federal courts, and before the Social Security Administration in any jurisdiction. Please call our firm at 1-866-959-5362 if you would like to discuss your case in more detail. The answers provided on Avvo.com are for information purposes only, and should not be relied on as legal advice. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. In some jurisdictions, this answer may be construed as attorney advertising.
Short answer is that yes, you can ask and receive benefits for a " closed period" of disability. However, certain dates can affect that eligibility. Also, maybe you are in a trial work period or will have an unsuccessful work attempt by the time of the hearing. Find a lawyer in your area who practices Social Security law - you really need one to explore all possibilities in your case regarding your work activity.
Hope that helps and good luck.
Getting compensated for the 15+ months off work is called a “closed period”. However, to get benefits for this time will depend on the date you applied for benefits. Social Security can look back up to 1 year from the date of your application, so if you applied within the first year off work then you could theoretically get this “closed period”.
You really should contact a local social security attorney to discuss your case.
DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being provided for informational purposes only because the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.