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What is My Disability Onset Date?

You may have heard the term "established onset date" (EOD) before. But what does it mean? Your EOD, or disability onset date, is the earliest date you meet the Social Security Administration's (SSA) strict definition of disability and other eligibility factors. The EOD is the date you are entitled to Social Security disability benefits.

Regarding some eligibility factors, suppose you've applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. In that case, the SSA will check that you have enough work credits to qualify for the program. If you've applied for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, the SSA will ensure you have limited income to qualify.

Your monthly benefits may be affected if the SSA finds your EOD is later than your alleged onset date (AOD). For example, your benefits, such as back pay or retroactive benefits, may be reduced. The following information discusses some of the ways the SSA determines your EOD.

Determining Your Onset Date: Most Cases

SSA decision-makers look first to your AOD to determine your EOD. Your AOD is when you think you became unable to engage in work activity due to physical or mental impairment(s). Suppose your AOD is consistent with the evidence and you meet the eligibility requirements. In that case, the decision-makers find that the date (your AOD) is your EOD.

At the initial and reconsideration levels, the Disability Determination Services (DDS), a state agency, determines your EOD. While the decision-makers at the DDS have discretion, the EOD cannot conflict with the medical evidence. To establish the EOD, decision-makers use some of the following evidence and factors:

  1. Claimant's Statements: The SSA considers your statements about your medical condition. These statements include when you think your disabling condition began. These statements are included on the application and the Adult Disability Report, Form SSA-3368-BK.
  2. Work History: The SSA also considers the date you stopped working at substantial gainful activity (SGA) levels. This monthly amount is $1,470 in 2023 for non-blind individuals and $2,460 for blind individuals. Your EOD is generally after you stop working at SGA levels.
  3. Medical and Related Evidence: You should submit to the SSA all available and relevant medical records. Sometimes, a decision-maker can't decide based on your medical history and other evidence. In those cases, the decision-maker may infer an EOD. At the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) level, the ALJ may ask a medical expert to assist with inferring an EOD.

For disabilities of a traumatic origin, the EOD is generally the day of the injury, even if you worked that day. The evidence must also show you also met the definition of disability on that day.

Special Cases

Sometimes it takes more work to determine your EOD. You may consider speaking with a Social Security disability lawyer if you have a unique circumstance. Here are some examples:

  • Childhood Disability: One way the SSA pays Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB) is under the SSI program. The child must be younger than 18 and meet eligibility requirements. Once the child turns 18, they are reevaluated by the SSA under the adult standard of disability. At this point, the now-adult child may lose benefits. Also, suppose an adult child has a parent with a qualifying work record and receives Social Security benefits. In that case, the claimant may receive CBD when they turn 18. However, the claimant's EOD must be before age 22, and the claimant must be unmarried and dependent on the wage earner.
  • Blindness: The EOD is generally when the claimant meets the legal definition of statutory blindness and non-medical requirements. Sometimes, a claimant may meet both but continues to engage in SGA. Then, later, the claimant becomes unable to continue working. The SSA will identify that later date as the date of the entitlement to disability payments. The payments are subject to a five-month waiting period.
  • Amended AOD: You may be able to amend your AOD so long as you do so before the date of the DDS decision. You may amend your AOD to a date of onset earlier or later than you said you first became disabled. It might be a good idea to amend your AOD if you become aware of specific criteria the SSA uses in deciding the EOD. These are criteria you hadn't considered when filing your benefits application.

Get a Handle on Your SSDI Claim: Contact an Attorney

Sometimes it's complicated to figure out your AOD on your disability claim. An attorney can ensure you pick an appropriate AOD on your SSDI application or SSI application. Contact a Social Security disability attorney near you today to ensure you get the SSDI benefits or SSI benefits you deserve.

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Contact a qualified social security lawyer to assist in your social security disability matter.

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