1. Should I appeal my Social Security award’s onset date? If the difference between your alleged onset date and your established onset date is minimal, it probably does not make sense to risk appealing the decision.  Your favorable decision can be overturned so an appeal is not always a no-risk proposition.


2. Did you work prior to your established onset date?  Many people assume their onset date should match the date they became sick.  But if you were engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA).  SGA means if you’re earning over approx. $1100 per month, you will not be deemed disabled no matter how bad your condition.  However, this limitation on SGA only applies to “earned” income.  It does not apply to sick leave or other receipt of money, which may show up on your tax records, but is not actually earned.  It is important to talk to a disability lawyer if you have been denied for SGA purposes and you’re unsure of the accuracy of the denial.


3. Do you have medical evidence from prior to the established onset date? It is very difficult to win a Social Security Disability claim in Tallahassee or anywhere in the U.S. without medical records from the date you’re alleging disability.  Without medical records to prove an earlier onset date, it may be better to accept a partially favorable decision.  However, before assuming no evidence exists prior to the established onset date, it probably makes sense to discuss the matter with a disability lawyer.


People often visit us at our Tallahassee disability law firm with questions about how much their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit would be.  Or how much backpay they would be entitled to for the time between their disability and the time their claim is approved.

“What is the onset date?” is a question that Social Security will ask you whether you apply yourself or with the assistance of a disability lawyer in Tallahassee or elsewhere.  But SSA may not agree with your answer as to when your disability began.  The established onset date differs from the alleged onset date. As the name suggests, the alleged onset date is the date estimated by the applicant on his or her application claiming when he or she could no longer work due to limitation. This date can be reset by the Disability Determination Services who is contracted by SSA to review disability claims.  Alleged onset dates are considered by Disability Determination Services (DDS), but it is a claimant’s medical records and work history reports that are weighed most heavily when determining the established onset date. This established onset date is the date the disabled individual was found unable to work.

It is common for DDS to set the established onset date at a much different time than the date alleged by the applicant. This can unfortunately cut a portion of a winning claimant’s earned benefits.  Our Tallahassee Social Security disability lawyers work with each of their clients to provide the best chance of winning a case at the alleged onset date.  If you are granted an established onset date much later than your alleged onset date, it generally means less monthly benefits as well as a lower lump sum (backpay) award described below.

As a beneficiary, you will receive an additional lump sum of money – this additional lump sum is referred to as back payments – along with your monthly check. Retroactive payments are the past due benefits from your established onset date to the time you are approved to receive benefits. However, regardless of your established onset date, you cannot receive benefits from prior to your application (for SSI benefits) or one year prior to your application (for SSDI benefits).  If you disagree with the established onset date set by Social Security, speak with our experienced Tallahassee disability attorneys to determine whether you should appeal  your established onset date.