It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact date on which someone was no longer able to work because of a disability. However, the disability onset date is particularly important when applying for Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI. The Social Security Administration — SSA — determines when an applicant’s disability onset date was, so it is important for New Jersey applicants to provide as much relevant documentation as possible.

Traumatic vs. nontraumatic origins

Determining the disability onset date is fairly straightforward for a disability of traumatic origins. Although there are some exceptions, the SSA generally uses the date that the traumatic or inciting incident occurred. Things can be a little more complicated for a disability of nontraumatic origins, so the SSA will look at things like the applicant’s:

  • Allegations
  • Work history
  • Medical or other related evidence

Onset date for mental impairment

The SSA will look at a few different things when deciding on the disability onset date for hospitalized or formerly hospitalized applicants with mental illnesses or impairments. This includes documentation for medical records and history, such as when and for how long an applicant was hospitalized and where in New Jersey they were located. Statements from staff or attending physicians can also be helpful, as is nonmedical evidence from the applicant.

SSDI payments are not paid retroactively to the disability onset date. However, this does not mean it is not important. The SSA needs as full a picture as possible when reviewing a person’s application, and this date can help provide invaluable information that may influence whether someone is approved for benefits.