Your “onset date” is the date when you became disabled. In order
to help you determine what onset date to allege, a Social Security Disability
Attorney may ask you a series of questions to decide when you stopped being
able to work on a regular basis. The answers to these questions will affect how
much back pay to which you are entitled and how much your monthly benefit
amount will be.
The first question is typically “when did you stop working?” The
earliest possible onset date is usually the date when you last worked,
especially if you were working full time. In some circumstances, however, the
earnings from your last job will be below the level of “substantial gainful
activity” or “SGA.” The dollar amount that constitutes SGA varies from year to
year. For 2019 it was $1,220 per month. If you were earning less than the SGA
amount, then your onset date of disability may be before the actual last day
you worked. For example, if you were out of work for a month and then you
returned to work for less than six months, your onset date might be at the
beginning of the earlier period of time.
The next question is often “why did you stop working?” There are
many situations in which you may stop working even though you are not disabled.
For example, someone who is fired from his or her job because the employer
ceased operations may not have been disabled, especially if no impairments
prevent the performance of that job. If you became unable to work at your job
because you were severely injured due to an accident, then your last day of
work will probably be your onset date of disability.
Another question is “has your condition become worse since you
last worked?” There are many situations where your injury or conditions may
prevent the performance of some jobs but not all substantial gainful activity.
For example, someone with knee pain may be unable to perform past work but
still retain the ability to perform less exertionally demanding jobs. If that
person suffers an unrelated injury at a later date that does prevent all work
the best onset date will probably be the date of the more serious injury. A
Social Security Attorney will also consider disability rules that apply to your
specific age before helping to determine your alleged onset date.
Determining your earliest possible onset date will ensure to
maximize retroactive benefits and, for an SSDI claim, the shortest wait for
eligibility for Medicare. One option that exists even up to the time of hearing
is to amend the onset date if that will make it more likely that your claim
will be approved.
If you have any questions about determining your onset date, call
Green & Greenberg and we can assist you. Our disability lawyers and
highly-trained staff can help answer your questions and get you the benefits