The onset date is the date a SSDI claimant became disabled. The onset date is set by the claimant on the application for SSDI. When the claimant sets the onset date it is called an "alleged" onset date; once the onset date is approved it is then called the "established" onset date. We only mentioned SSDI and not SSI because if you have kept up with your reading of prior posts you probably could have figured that the onset date is not relevant in an SSI case because SSI benefits are never given until the first day of the month after a claimant files for disability. Back benefits are not awarded in a SSI claim.
For an SSDI claimant the onset date is very important. You must make a good faith effort in determining the earliest possible date you believe you became disabled. Many times the social security administration (SSA) will provide a date that is much later than the date you provide. It is to your advantage to have your onset date pushed back as far as possible. Now we are not saying to pick a date that is not correct or untrue. What we are saying is to make sure the date you provided on your application is congruent with the onset date recognized by the social security administration (SSA).
Why is it best to have an onset date pushed back? SSDI provides for back pay in benefits once your case is approved. The earlier you can prove you are disabled the more back benefits you will receive. It is important to keep accurate records of your condition and verify your onset date with the social security administration's (SSA) onset date.
You should recognize several aspects in regard to your onset date. The work you have done in the past must be consistent with the onset date of your disability. You cannot be disabled and work at the same time. Therefore your onset date cannot pre-date any work activity. However if you believe your onset date does pre-date some type of work activity, you should identify the type and extent of work you did. If the work you did was below the substantial gainful activity (SGA), which we have discussed in prior posts, or the past work you did was an unsuccessful work attempt you may be able to reconcile this potential problem. If your past work does not "qualify" you would be able to push your onset date back. It is often difficult to determine if the work you have done in the past will qualify as substantial gainful activity. If you have any questions you should contact an experienced social security disability attorney or your local social security field office.