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What is my onset date of disability for SSDI?

By: Beth Losure

It is not unusual for the Social Security Administration to use a variety of words or acronyms that are unfamiliar to many disability claimants.

So, what is the onset date of disability? According to the Social Security Administration it is the date that you first became disabled and you were unable to perform substantial gainful activity.

Traditionally this date has been established through medical evidence (medical notes, X-rays, MRIs, doctor information, etc.). Work history and personal testimony may also be considered. The onset date of disability cannot occur before the date on which the condition is medically confirmed.

The onset date of disability can be very important for determining several benefits. For example, many claimants, who are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance, want to know when their SSDI payments will begin. For SSDI there is a five month wait period after the established onset date of disability before one becomes eligible for Social Security Disability payments.

The onset date of disability is also important with regards to your date last insured (DLI). Keep in mind that if you are “insured” for SSDI and you stop working and paying payroll taxes there will be a date, at some point in the future, when you are no longer insured. If your date last insured (DLI) has passed, there may be a chance you can still win benefits if you can prove that your disability onset date was before your DLI or date last insured.

Another common question, in regards to the onset date of disability and the SSDI waiting period, is should claimants wait until they are disabled for 5 months before they apply for SSDI. No, if you think your condition is going to last 12 continuous months, you should apply right away. The disability process can take months to complete; it is important to get started as soon as possible.

Back pay benefits may also be affected by the claimant’s onset date of disability. To determine back pay benefits for SSDI claimants the judge or adjudicator of the SSDI claim will determine the claimant’s onset date. If the onset date is more than 5 months before the application date, the claimant may be entitled to retroactive payments. Back pay is not paid for SSDI, however, for more than 12 months prior to the application date, regardless of the disability onset date.

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