Understanding Your Alleged Onset Date for Social Security Disability

What is an “alleged onset date” for Social Security Disability purposes?  For anyone who has applied or is applying for Social Security Disability benefits, this is a very important question because part of proving your Social Security Disability claim is proving the date you became disabled.

Our Social Security Disability attorneys at Hunter & Everage see far too many people claim their alleged onset date is the date they stopped working. But they don’t fully understand how the alleged onset date is proven and what it may mean in terms of benefits.  In order to fully understand what this may mean in terms of benefits, you have to, first, understand your alleged onset date.

Before answering the question of what is an alleged onset date for Social Security Disability, you must first understand the term “disability” for Social Security purposes.  Essentially, disability under the Social Security Act is defined as an inability to work due to a severe medical impairment.  So 1) you have to have a severe medical impairment and; 2) it has to prevent you from engaging in substantial work activity.  And, whether your medical impairment is severe, as opposed to mild or moderate, must be proven by medical evidence.  So, assuming you do, in fact, suffer from a severe medical impairment that prevents you from working, you need to figure out what date you become disabled.

Why is the onset date important?  Your onset date determines how much in past due benefits, or backpay, you can get.  First, you’re not eligible for disability benefits for the first five months after the date that that you became disabled.  For example, if you claim and prove that you became disabled January 1, 2015, your disability payments would not begin until June 1, 2015.

However, if you claim and prove that you became disabled on January 1, 2013, you would be eligible for backpay going back to June 1, 2013 assuming that you applied for benefits prior to that date.  The problem arises, however, when you claim a disability date of January 1, 2013, but the medical evidence does not necessarily prove that you were disabled on that date.

This is why understanding your alleged onset date is so important.  As stated earlier, many people will claim they became disabled on the day that they stopped working.  Although this date may be the correct date for some people, most people will not fall into this category and the date they can actually prove they became disabled through medical evidence will be after they stopped working.

It can help your claim if you’re willing to amend your onset date.  If you have a close case and there is medical evidence in the record that more strongly supports your disability claim after your alleged onset date, be prepared to amend your onset date prior to your hearing.  It not only makes your case much stronger at hearing, but in some instances you may be able to avoid a hearing altogether and the judge can award benefits based on your amended onset date.

If you have questions about your alleged onset date, call our disability attorneys at Hunter & Everage to discuss what it may mean for your case.