For New Jersey residents with a disability, it is not hard to remember back to the day the disability came to pass. Indeed, for many the day when the disability began to block their ability to live the way they wanted to is a day scorched in their mind. But, while that date may be the logical starting point for the disability, the Social Security Administration may not recognize it as the official disability onset date.

So, according to the SSA, when is a person’s official disability onset date? That depends on the disability’s origins. If the disability is the product of a trauma, the SSA considers the injury date as the onset date, provided that the injury prevented the person from working for at least 12 straight months, or if the person is expected to die from the traumatic event.

If, by contrast, the disability is the fruit of a non-traumatic cause, the SSA will take a fact-intensive approach to deciding on the date. This approach can include reviewing a person’s allegations, work history and medical evidence.

Similarly, if the disability is mental in nature, the SSA will look at the same features mentioned in the previous paragraph. But, then they will go a step further and consult non-medical evidence, evidence such as instances of abnormal behavior and the reasons for earlier work stoppages.

Why does the onset date matter? For many reasons. The most pertinent of those for this post is that the onset date is used to determine the start of a person’s eligibility for Social Security disability benefits for injuries. Payments will not begin before this date.