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Disability benefits: what is a “disability onset date?”

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2017 | Social Security Disability, social security disability 1 | 0 comments

When a person in Georgia is awarded Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, the benefits will not be paid retroactively. Instead, it will commence starting at the date the person applied for benefits, so long as all other requirements for benefits have been satisfied.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) still needs to ascertain the person’s “disability onset date.” This is the date that the person ceased being able to work due to their disabling illness or injury. A person’s disability onset date can have an effect on the person’s benefit pay period, or even whether the person qualifies for SSD benefits.

A person’s disability onset date for those whose illness is of a non-traumatic origin, such as cancer, is determined based on certain evidence. This evidence includes the person’s allegations, the person’s work history and the person’s medical records. A person’s allegations are comprised of the person’s statement of when their disability began, which is a part of both the person’s application and the Disability Report Form SSA-3368-BK.

A person’s work history — that is, the date the person became unable to work — is documented by the person’s area Social Security Administration district office. For employees, this is Form SSA-821-F4 and for the self-employed this is Form SSA-820-F4.

Finally, the SSA will examine all relevant medical evidence, the person includes in their application for benefits. Sometimes, if an illness progresses slowly, determining an exact onset date is not feasible. In these situations, the SSA will infer an onset date based on the medical evidence submitted.

In the end, however, each application for SSD benefits is unique, and will be treated as such. Those with questions about their particular disability onset date should seek legal advice.

Source:, “What is My Disability Onset Date?,” accessed on April 10, 2017


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