By: Disability Group The Basics: Your al…

By: Disability Group

The Basics:

Your alleged onset date is the date you are telling the Social Security Administration (SSA) you first became disabled.  Your onset date is important as this is used by your attorney to determine how far back medical records need to be obtained and by SSA to determine when you became eligible to receive disability benefits.

Your alleged onset date will usually be one of the following:

  • The date you stopped working;
  • The date you were diagnosed with a certain condition;
  • The date you turned either 50 or 55;
  • The date after an unfavorable decision;
  • The date a doctor said you were unable to work; or
  • The date you applied for disability benefits (usually for Supplemental Security Income [“SSI”] benefits).

For most cases, the date in which you stopped working is chosen as the date you first became disabled strictly for technical reasons. As you cannot work and collect social security disability benefits, choosing the date you stopped working typically maximizes the amount you can collect under Social Security Regulations.  Although you may have been diagnosed with a condition and continued to work, under Social Security Regulations, you are not eligible to receive benefits until you’ve stopped working.

Similarly for technical reasons, if you have a prior unfavorable decision before an administrative law judge on a past application for social security disability benefits, your onset date cannot be earlier than the date after you received this decision.

For SSI benefits, as you are unable to collect benefits prior to the date of your application, the date in which you applied is typically chosen as your onset date as this again maximizes the benefits you are able to receive under Social Security Regulations.


In most cases, the date you state on your application will remain your onset date for the entire life of your application.  In some instances, however, following a review by an attorney at our office or an attorney with the Office of Disability Adjudication (“ODAR”) and Review, an amendment may be necessary. 

These amendments are done in order to better argue your case.  In the case of an attorney with ODAR making the requested amendment, this may be done in order to get your case granted as soon as possible. 

Typically, amendments to an onset date are needed if a claimant continues to work after date of their alleged onset or if a particular doctor states the claimant has been disabled since a certain date.  Another common occurrence is the amendment of a disability onset to an individual’s 50th or 55th birthday.  This occurs as Social Security Regulations are drafted so that they apply differently to those who are 50-55, 55-60 and 60 or above than to individuals who are under 49.