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Why is Onset Date Important in SSDI Claims?

Many people seeking Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits mistakenly think that the only issue is whether they are disabled. But the question of when they became disabled is also a point of contention in many cases. How this issue is decided can make a difference of thousands of dollars in your entitlement to back benefits. In some cases, establishing a certain onset date may be necessary to qualify for benefits at all. This often overlooked issue is one of primary importance that deserves the attention of an experienced Social Security attorney.

Your onset date is the date when your condition became serious enough to prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity. In many cases it is set on the last day you worked although it can be set at other times, depending on the circumstances of your case.

  • Because you can potentially qualify for retroactive benefits for up to a year before you actually filed your disability application, it is usually advantageous to set your onset date back far enough to take full advantage of those benefits.
  • If you have not worked in a long time and are no longer insured under the SSDI program, you may be able to still obtain benefits if you can show you became disabled before you lost insured status.
  • Because your monthly benefits are computed based on your pre-onset earnings, setting your onset date prior to a substantial reduction in you income can raise your monthly benefits.

But an onset date should not be arbitrarily set simply to maximize your benefits. There must be medical evidence and documentation to support it. This means that you should usually not seek an onset date far prior to the point in time that you sought treatment for your condition. While the Social Security field office will usually assist you in setting an onset date when you file your initial claim, a Social Security attorney may recommend that you amend the date they set if the circumstances of your case warrant it.

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