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What is my “Disability Date” for SSDI?


If you suffer from a medical condition that affects your ability to work, one of the first issues that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider in providing Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI) is your “disability date.” This factor is critical because it tells the SSA when you became eligible to receive for SSDI benefits, which are paid retroactively for up to 12 months prior to the date that you file for SSDI. Many people who submit their application for benefits assume that the determining the disability date is straightforward: You certainly know the date you suffered a disabling injury, and you can probably identify when you first sought treatment for an illness. However, there is more to it than simply going through the calendar.

It is important to discuss the specifics of your situation with a knowledgeable SSDI lawyer in Maryland, but pinpointing your disability date comes down to two factors.

  1. The Date Your Disability Began

This first disability date consideration refers to the exact date you become injured or were first diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition. While it is the more clear-cut of the two factors, there can still be complications with your SSDI if you do not properly support your application for benefits. You must be able to prove the disability date with medical records from your treating physician or a specialist.

Another issue that can complicate your disability date is a common mistake: Not seeking a medical provider right away when you are injured or start experiencing symptoms of an illness. Many people hope their injury will heal or the medical condition will go away, and then a year later – after they have been unable to work for months – will seek treatment. SSA will not pay benefits for that time because there are no medical records to support the claim. 

  1. The Date Your Disability Prevented You From Working

This second factor relates to the date when your disability affected your ability to maintain substantial gainful activity (SGA) at your job. Your SGA refers to your earnings on a monthly basis, and your disability date is the point when you began earning less than a certain level. The SGA is adjusted annually: For 2018, it is $1,180. The date your SGA falls below that amount is your disability date.

In many cases, the date your SGA falls below the threshold will coincide with the date you sought treatment for an injury or medical condition. This makes determining your disability date easy. However, if you are able to work for some time above the SGA level – and only later earn less than $1,180 per month – the issue becomes quite complicated. 

Consult with a Skilled SSDI Attorney About Your Disability Date 

While this overview of determining your disability date may be useful, many claims do not fall neatly within the two-prong test. Approval of your SSDI claim hinges on the accuracy of your disability date, so you should work with an experienced attorney to ensure there are no delays in receiving benefits. Please contact Steinhardt, Siskind and Lieberman, LLC for more information or to schedule a consultation. We have several offices in Maryland, including Glen Burnie, Owings Mills, Ellicott City, and Annapolis.


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