What Does the Onset Date Mean for your SSDI claim?

SSD Claimant - onset of disability

What is an onset date, and what does it mean for your SSDI claim?

The onset date is the date that you claim you became disabled when you file your application for Social Security benefits. Typically, the onset date is the date you last worked, but not always. Choosing the correct onset date is very important to your chances of obtaining disability benefits and obtaining the maximum back payment you are entitled to receive.

The onset date determines when you are first eligible to receive Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits and how much you will receive in retroactive benefits. SSDI benefits may be paid up to 12 months before the date you file your application. There is a five-month waiting period after your onset date during which you will not receive benefits. To get the full 12 months, you would have to prove you were disabled at least 17 months before you file your claim, due to the 5-month waiting period.

Social Security can disagree with your alleged onset date and choose a different onset date.  This could mean you would receive less retroactive benefits. This will also delay your Medicare eligibility.  

For example, Amy was injured and was pulled out of work on May 5, 2022. She was able to return to work on October 15, 2022, but was pulled out again on December 12, 2022, due to her injury, and can no longer work. When we met, she said her onset date, or the date she stopped working was December 12, 2022. After further questions, I advised her that her onset is May 5, 2022, and that her attempt to return to work doesn’t change that.

Why does it matter? SSA has a 5-month waiting period before they will start to pay benefits. If Amy filed her claim and alleged an onset date of December 12, 2022, and won her case, her first month of benefits would be June 2023. Because we used May 5, 2022, as her onset date, when we won her case, her first month of benefits was November 2022, which resulted in her receiving seven more months’ worth of benefits.

Choosing an onset date is very important and every case is different. Our Social Security Disability attorneys will analyze your case and help you to choose an onset date that is supported by your medical records as well as your work history.

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