When did your Disability begin? The Importance of the Onset Date in Social Security Disability Claims.

May 30, 2016 by

The onset date of your disability is a very important date in your Social Security Disability Insurance claim.

The onset date can determine if you're even eligible for benefits and can affect when those benefits will begin.  It is important for you to know how this date can affect your claim for benefits.  This date also can play a role in a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability claim.

A Social Security Ruling states: "The onset date of disability is the first day an individual is disabled as defined in the Act and the regulations."  This may seem pretty cut and dried, but how does the Social Security Administration actually define "disability"?  As you can imagine, the answer is not that simple.

If you and/or Social Security choose the wrong onset date, you may miss out on months of critical monthly cash benefits and health insurance.  This is why it is very important to choose the most appropriate onset date.

Many people think that the onset date should be:

  • The date that they last worked
  • The date they first started having symptoms
  • When those symptoms first started affecting their work performance
  • The date you started missing days from work
  • Or when you had to file a long-term disability claim or miss work under the Family Medical Leave Act.

All of the above are valid considerations, but alone may not establish the correct onset date in your claim for disability benefits.

Some Factors That Can Influence the Onset Date

Let's say that your medical condition forced you to stop working full-time two years ago.  Later, you were able to work part-time before having to completely stop working because of your symptoms such as pain or fatigue.  Should your onset date be the date that stopped your full-time work or the date that you stopped working part-time work? The right answer depends upon a number of factors, such as:

  • Why did you have to stop working full-time?
  • Did your impairments have anything to do with why you stopped working?
  • The number of hours per week that you worked part-time.
  • How much did you earn per hour in your part-time work?
  • How many months did you work part-time?
  • Why did you stop working part-time?

These are just some of the issues that you may have to carefully think about before choosing the right onset date. Choosing the earliest appropriate onset date can make a big difference in your claim.  A lot is at stake here - benefits necessary to make ends meet and health insurance.

Given what's riding on the outcome of your case, it's best to have an experienced Social Security disability attorney review your claim before you file.  Normally, such an evaluation is free.  You don't have anything to lose if you have an experienced Social Security representative review your claim.  You might have something to lose, though, if you move ahead without knowing what is the correct onset date in your particular situation.