Have you ever noticed how hard it is to pin a specific event to an exact date? If I asked you when the last day you went swimming was, would you be able to tell me? Or when did you eat your last slice of pizza? (If you often throw pizza pool parties, you might be the exception). Dates can be hard to remember, especially when there are other important things going on in our lives. Not remembering the date of your disability onset can be something like that, but with some severe consequences.
Not remembering the date of your disability onset can be something like that, but with some severe consequences.
Disability happens in different ways
Sometimes disability results from life changing events, like car accidents or sports injuries. Injuries that can be tied to a single day or even hour of the day are as life-changing as they are sudden. They can drastically change the way we look at the world. Other times, disability is a part of a process, like slowly losing vision or our ability to walk. Pinning a specific date on blindness or the ability to get out of the house like we used to can be a real challenge.
The SSA was established to provide a level of dignity to those who can’t work. Even at its founding, the US recognized that work lifts people up. Work allows people to participate in their communities and give back. The SSA is designed to give Americans who can’t work the breathing room to participate in their communities like their working counterparts.
However, understanding how much pain disabled Americans feel on a daily basis isn’t a part of that decision. When applying for Social Security disability, the Federal Government doesn’t care about how difficult it can be using a wheelchair, or much about your personal struggles. The SSA cares about your ability to participate in the work force. And their application for disability benefits reflects that. The reason the disability onset date (DOD) is so important is because they want to know when you met their definition of “disabled.” In other words, they want to know when you could no longer work so they can determine how much back pay (called retroactive benefits) you should receive on your benefits.
Keep accurate records
The date you stop being able to work is important to the Federal Government, not the date you stop working or the date you consider the start of your disability. This information helps the SSA know how much they are obligated to pay you.
That’s why it’s so important to remember the date, even if it may be difficult. Keeping accurate records of when you visit doctors, when you take sick time from work, and when you ultimately leave work. These are some of the most vital pieces of information in your disability case. Having a written account and official documents will always be better than trying to remember. Even in cases of sickness and accidents, official documents will always hold more weight than your memory.
Also, the SSA may dispute your claimed date and set their own (calling it an established onset date, or EOD), meaning you will receive less retroactive benefits. Having accurate records can work to your benefit here as well. Accurate records help you get all the money you’ve worked and qualified for.
Call us for help
There are many pitfalls with Social Security. Managing your disability claim can be stressful, confusing, and time-consuming, especially at a time when you should be focusing on healing and managing your disability.
At the Summit Disability Law Group, we want to help. Please feel free to call us at (801)890-1030 with any questions you might have regarding your Social Security disability claim or to set up a free consultation. Even if you do not use our services, we would love to share our experience with you because we are passionate about helping those with disabilities find financial independence and self-satisfaction.
For more tips and advice about your Social Security disability claim, order a copy of our free book.