Should You Appeal an Established Onset Date for Disability Benefits?

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, the established onset date (EOD) must be determined. The EOD is the date at which you officially developed a qualifying disability that the SSA believes makes you eligible for benefits.  The EOD is sometimes very clear: for example, it may be the date when you suffer a debilitating accident that causes severe impairment. In other cases, like when you have a progressive physical or mental illness, the question of when you became too severely disabled to work may be a subjective one since it can be difficult to determine exactly when your condition became bad enough to get benefits.  

You will need to provide information on your condition when you apply for benefits so the SSA can determine your established onset date. The date that you determine you are eligible for benefits is called the Alleged Onset Date (AOD).  In some cases, the SSA may determine that your EOD occurred at a very different time than you believe you became disabled (the EOD differs from your AOD). When this happens, you can appeal your established onset date. A Social Security Disability lawyer can help you to determine if you should appeal and, if so, can assist in making arguments to convince the SSA that you became disabled at a different time than the agency has determined. 

Appealing an established onset date can make sense because you can get benefits sooner (and more back pay) if your established onset date was earlier. When you are receiving SSDI benefits, you may also be eligible for Medicare coverage after 24 months.  The sooner the SSA determines you were eligible for benefits, the sooner this coverage can begin. 

There are a number of reasons why an EOD may be incorrect. For example, the SSA generally considers whether you were were engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA) when determining your EOD. If you were engaged in SGA, you are not eligible for benefits during that time period. SGA is defined as earning above a set amount (which, as of 2015, is set at $1,090 per month).  There may be situations in which you received income when you were not actually working (such as when you are paid on a contract basis) and the SSA may set your EOD incorrectly based on this type of discrepancy. 

A Social Security Disability lawyer can help to challenge your EOD, so call as soon as possible if you believe the SSA has made a mistake in determining when you were disabled.

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts is the managing attorney for Disability Advocates Group. She opened Disability Advocates Group to assist individuals who became disabled and unable to work to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.  Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.