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Understanding your disability onset date

During the application process for Social Security Disability Insurance, your onset date will need to be determined by the Social Security Administration. Although your SSDI payments, if approved, are not retroactive to your onset date but rather your application date, there are a few reasons why this date must be determined.

The SSA uses this date as the date you are considered unable to work due to your disability. If you were injured, this date is fairly easy to determine. But, for certain illnesses, blindness or mental conditions, the SSA will look at several factors to determine this date.

Your application form will ask you the date you stopped working, but the SSA will also look at your work history as well as medical records to determine your onset date. Why is this important? The Social Security Administration must determine that your disability will last at least one year or will ultimately result in death in order for you to be considered for Social Security Disability Insurance.

For a mental condition, it may be difficult to determine the date of the impairment. The SSA will look at any hospital dates, medical records and the worker's medical history. They may also seek a statement by hospital staff, and even former employees and family members in an effort to establish the date.

For blindness, the SSA considers the date that the applicant's visual impairment is legally considered statutory blindness as the onset date. If a worker is legally blind but still did work activities, the worker must state a second date where the worker stopped working.

The application process and appeals process for Social Security Disability, if initially denied, can seem overwhelming. It may be wise to consider getting more information about the process to assure the best chance of getting approved.

Source: findlaw.com, "What is My Disability Onset Date?" Accessed on Sept. 8, 2015

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