When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, you will be asked when you first became unable to work, due to your disability. This date is called your disability onset date.
Picking the date to list as your disability onset date is an important decision. Your application can be denied based on your onset date. Your onset date can also make a very significant difference as to how much back pay you receive.
You can only receive benefits if you worked long enough and recently enough before you became disabled. If you go long enough without working, you will no longer be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.
So if the last day on which you were eligible was January 30, 2013, and your disability onset date was February 10, 2013, you will be unable to collect any benefits at all, because you were no longer covered at the time when you became too disabled to work.
If your application for Social Security Disability is approved, you may be able to receive retroactive payments, going as far back as 12 months before you applied. This can only happen, though, if you became disabled well before you applied.
You are not eligible for Social Security Disability benefits until the sixth full month after your Disability Onset Date. So if you became too disabled to work on February 10, 2012, your eligibility for benefits would begin on August 1, 2012 because August would be the sixth full month in which you were too disabled to work.
If you submit your application on February 10, 2013, and it is approved, then you will be able to collect back payments going back to August 1, 2012. The only way you would be able to collect a full year’s worth of back payments is if your disability onset date was at least 17 full months before your application date.
This gives Social Security Disability applicants an incentive to submit an early date as their disability onset date. However, earlier is not always better. It is not advisable to choose a date that occurred earlier than the last day on which you worked. Remember – your disability onset date is when you became incapable of working.
Also, you should be aware that just because an applicant submits a certain date does not mean that the Social Security Administration will necessarily agree with it.
How Will They Decide If the Date I Submitted is Correct?
In order to determine your official disability onset date, the Social Security Administration will consider the statement in your application as to when you became too disabled to work. They will then look at your work history, and the medical evidence that you have provided them with.
If the date you listed is consistent with all of the evidence available, then they will certify that date as your disability onset date. However, if the date you gave them is not consistent with the evidence, then they may explore other sources of documentation. This could mean that they will seek additional information from people you know, such as your friends, family members, and former employers – but they will not contact these people without your permission.
If the Social Security Administration determines that the onset date you provided is inaccurate, then they will set the disability onset date themselves, by choosing the date that it is most reasonable to conclude from the evidence. If you have questions about this process or about the Social Security Disability process, reach out to attorney Paul Giannetti today.