Your disability onset date is the date at which you became unable to work as a result of a disabling medical condition. Payments are not made retroactively but begin with the application date, provided all other eligibility conditions are met.
It is important for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to determine your onset date of disability because it may affect your benefit pay period or even your eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The SSA bases this date on medical records, work history, applicant allegations, and other types of evidence.
The following information highlights the ways in which the SSA determines your disability onset date. If you still need help, consider speaking with a Social Security disability lawyer near you.
For disabilities of nontraumatic origin, which includes most SSI or SSDI cases, SSA officials consider the following factors (the weight given to any one type of evidence depends on each individual case, although the onset date cannot be inconsistent with the medical evidence):
For disabilities of a traumatic origin, the onset date is the day of the injury if you expect to be unable to work for at least 12 months (continuous) or are expected to die as a result of the traumatic incident.
In some cases, it may be inferred that the disabling condition occurred before the date of the first recorded medical exam or the last day of work. The disability onset date for such cases (where precise evidence is not available) depends on a judgment of the available facts, often by a medical advisor at the hearing.
For cases involving a hospitalized (or formerly hospitalized) individual claiming mental impairment, the alleged onset date is made in the Report on Individual with Mental Impairment (PDF, Form SSA-824). The following types of evidence are considered when determining the onset date:
Applicant's family members, former employers, and others may be contacted in order to determine the disability onset date, but only with the permission of the applicant or the applicant's representative.
Each claim is unique, so consider speaking with a Social Security disability lawyer if you are unsure of how to determine your onset date. Below are the rules pertaining to a couple of special cases:
Contact a qualified social security lawyer to assist in your social security disability matter.