When applying for Social Security Disability, it is important that the Social Security Administration (SSA) determine your disability date. Your disability date tells the SSA when you are eligible to receive a monthly disability benefit. It also tells the SSA when you can start to receive Medicare benefits. Determining your disability date is a two-prong test. First, the SSA will look at the date your disability began. Second, the SSA will look at the date you show that your disability prevented you from earning substantial gainful activity. Keep in mind, the SSA will only pay retroactive benefits 12 months prior to your filing date, if filing for Social Security Disability insurance. What this means is that if you filed for disability benefits in 2016, the furthest the SSA will go back for retroactive benefits is to 2015. It will not matter to the SSA if your disability began in 2012. This is just one of the many reasons you should apply for disability benefits as soon as you feel you are unable to work.
In determining the first part of the Social Security Disability date, the SSA will look at the date your disability began. To prove the date your disability began, you will need to show medical records supporting your disability. Oftentimes, individuals stop working for several months before they actually go to the doctor for treatment. The SSA will not be able to determine a disability date if they do not have medical records. For example, if you are claiming a disability date of 2012, but you did not begin treating with a medical provider until 2014, the SSA will be unable to find you disabled prior to your initial treatment with a medical provider. This means that it is vitally important to begin receiving medical treatment as soon as you begin experiencing an issue. What happens more often than not is that people believe their injury or condition will be short term and will eventually go away. But then a year later, when they are still having problems, they decide to go to the doctor. Do not do that. Go to the doctor right away. This way you will at least have preserved a remote disability date.
The second part of the Social Security Disability date evaluation has to do with when your disability prevented you from sustaining substantial gainful activity (SGA). All this means is that the regulations say you are still able to work some and be considered disabled, as long as the earnings are less than a certain amount per month. This amount changes every year. In 2018, the SGA amount is $1,180. So, the second part of the disability date establishes at what point you begin grossing less than $1,180 in earnings per month.
Typically, the date you stopped working and the date you began receiving treatment coincide with each other. This makes it easy to determine your Social Security Disability date. If your conditions have not prevented you from working under SGA, or if you have not received medical treatment, establishing a disability date will prove to be quite difficult.
The process of applying for disability benefits can be quite confusing, especially when determining which dates to use on the application. At the LaBovick Law Group, we help our clients with every stage of the Social Security Disability process, including the initial application. We know the process is confusing. Contact us so we can help you establish a correct disability date to maximize the benefits you deserve.