How to Choose Your Onset Date for Maximum Social Security Disability Payments

If you are unable to work due to an accident, you could get Social Security disability benefits paid all the way back to the day of your accident. However, disabled individuals whose injuries or conditions happen gradually—such as occupational diseases or some illness or conditions—have a difficult choice to make: what date should you put down as your “onset  date” on your Social Security disability application?

You should consider the following factors when choosing your onset date of disability:

  • Back benefits. Social Security will pay back benefits up to 12 months prior to the date of application. In most cases, applicants cannot be paid more than a year of back benefits, regardless of when they were injured.
  • Waiting time. All applicants must submit to a five-month waiting period after their disability onset date, during which no benefits will be paid.
  • Date last insured. In order to collect Social Security disability, you must have worked for at least five of the last ten years. Applicants cannot be paid disability if their disability began after their insured status coverage by Social Security has run out.

If the Social Security Administration (SSA) disagrees with the date you have chosen, they may select an alternate date, usually later than the date you claim to have been disabled. If the SSA changes your date, you could lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars in back pay.

What If I’m Not Sure of the Date My Disability Began?

If you are not sure of your last insured date, you may contact your local Social Security office. If you do not have one incident that clearly indicates the onset of your disability, you should choose a disability date that is supported by your medical evidence. The date should be the day of a significant event in your disability, such as the date of a diagnosis, the date of a surgery, or the date you last worked. Your medical record should corroborate this date by clearly showing how much you were impaired at the time.

Still not sure which date you should choose? Call us at (402) 933-5405 or email us at [email protected]  for a no cost evaluation of your case.

 

Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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