Your onset date is the date you became disabled. Social Security would say this is the day you stopped working if it is a Social Security Disability (SSD)Case. If your case is for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits your onset date is the day you submit your application. Your onset date is more important in an SSD case than an SSI case for many reasons.   

The onset date is important because the Social Security Administration (SSA) typically orders medical records from one year before this date.  If you were diagnosed with a condition three years ago and you just stopped working a year ago the SSA could miss a year of medical records of treatment, complication and limitations imposed on working by your doctor.

Payment and the onset date

The SSA will pay you for a year before your onset date in an SSD case. If your case is SSI only then the SSA will only pay you from the date of your application and moving forward.  Assume you have been off work for three years and you have an SSD case. The nice person at the SSA who filled out your application may tell you the onset date is the date of your application. That person could be helping the SSA cheat you out of an entire year of back pay, which likely translates to thousands of dollars lost.

If you have the wrong onset date and attempt to change this date it could raise questions in court about why you are changing the date. The judges do not seem to be sympathetic to the statement that the person at the SSA who filled out the application told you that was the date of your onset.

Determining the onset date after taking FMLA,  short term disability or Worker’s Compensation

Determining the onset date can be tricky. In Worker’s Compensation cases, it is usually the date of the injury. It is not the date of the settlement or the date your employment ended, nor is it the date the doctors said you reached your maximum medical improvement.

It can also be difficult to determine the onset date if you took FMLA or had short term disability through your employers. It is usually the last date you physically worked.  Determining your onset date can also be complicated if you have attempted to work at one or more short term jobs. The SSA will usually look at how long you worked at a short-term job and how much you earned at that job to determine if it is a successful work attempt.

An example of this occurs when a person works for one company for a few years. As an example, let’s say the person was a factory worker who stopped working on July 1, 2013 because he/she was let go by the company or decided that he/she is unable to do that job anymore.  Then the person decides that they want to try and find work in another field. The person looks for a different job and it takes them ten months to find a job as a greeter in a big box store. After taking a job as a greeter for a month he/she must quit due to his/her disabilities. The person does not want to stop working so he/she must look for another job. It takes the person only three months to find the next job working as a cashier. The person must quit the cashier job after two months due to disabilities.  The onset date should still be July 1, 2013, because he/she has not worked enough for the SSA to call the job as a greeter and the job as a cashier substantial gainful activity.  

Have you applied for SSD benefits or do you know someone who is considering applying for benefits? Consider the Neil Good Group for your representation. Call #(847) 577-4476 or complete this online evaluation form.