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How Do You Choose an “onset date” when you apply for Disability Benefits?

When filing an application for disability benefits online, you will be asked to choose the date that your disability began.  This date is called your alleged “onset date” and it is the date the SSA will use to establish your disability. Choosing an onset date of disability is important to your case because the SSA may not accept the date that you choose and that can cause a delay in your case.

It is important to choose an onset date of disability that coincides with the date you stopped working due to your disability. Work is defined by the SSA as working at the level of substantial gainful activity, which means earning greater than $1130 per month in 2016. If you are earning over the level of substantial gainful activity, you are not eligible to apply for disability benefits. If you stop working for reasons other than disability and then become disabled, you can choose an onset date that coincides with your doctor’s opinion of when your disability began.

Do not choose an onset date of disability in the past when you were working. While you may have had a medical impairment that started when you were working, the onset date of your disability cannot be alleged until your work has ceased. The date you allege disability is also important because it will be the date that is used to calculate your back benefits and your Medicare benefits. If you are awarded SSI benefits, your monthly benefits will begin on the day that you applied for SSI benefits.  However, if you are approved for Social Security Disability benefits, you will have a five-month waiting period from your established date of the disability.  SSD benefits can be paid a year prior to the date of your application, as long as you were not working.  Therefore, it is important to choose an alleged onset date of disability that coincides with the date you became disabled and the date that you were no longer able to work.

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