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Onset of Disability - SSI/DI

The date that SSA establishes as the onset of your disability is important. If you engage in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) within a year of your Established Onset Date (EOD), you may be determined ineligible if you have not received from SSA your "final determination of eligibility."

NOTE: See SGA before Final Determination of Eligibility for SSI and SGA before Final Determination of Eligibility for SSDI for more information on the effect of earning over the SGA level on your SSI and SSDI eligibility.)

For applicants and recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) the onset date of the disability is usually the date of application for SSI.

For applicants and beneficiaries of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), determining the onset date is more complicated.

NOTE: The following is adapted from DI 25502.001 of SSA's Programs Operations Manual System (POMS): The POMS is available online at:

Definition of Onset (SSDI)

Onset is the first day a person meets the definition of disability; that is, the date of coincidence of:

     Absence of Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), and

     A medically determinable severe impairment, and

     Duration expectation of 12 months or death.

Onset Factors

Factors to consider in establishing onset are:

Applicant allegations - A starting point for the determination of onset is the claimant's Alleged Onset Date (AOD). This represents the applicant's opinion of the date he or she became unable to work, and, if consistent with the work record and medical evidence, can be used as the Established Onset Date (EOD).

Work record - The date the claimant ceased SGA is an important consideration in establishing onset. In setting an onset where medical evidence indicates an impairment prior to the cessation of work, onset will ordinarily be established when SGA ceased.

Medical evidence - Medical evidence serves as the primary element in onset determination. The Established Onset Date (EOD) must be based on facts and must be consistent with the medical evidence of record.

ALERT: All work activity must be reported to SSA. You should always contact SSA before you engage in any work activity to determine what effect, if any, working might have on your SSI and/or SSDI benefits.

If you have not received a final determination notification (SSA calls this an "Award Certificate" form SSA-L-30C1, and it shows your established onset date and your month of entitlement to benefits), then your claim may not be finally adjudicated. This could mean that SSA has not determined an established date of onset, which could be different than either the date of your application or your alleged onset date. It could also mean that SSA has not made a determination of your disability.

Returning to work at the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level under the conditions listed above, or during the five-month application waiting period for SSDI, or within one year of the established date of onset, could possibly result in SSA determining that your disability has ceased and that you are not eligible for SSI and/or SSDI.

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