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Difference between onset and application date for Californians

A Los Angeles resident who is approved to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits will probably feel a great sense of relief. These benefits help millions of Americans make ends meet when they are unable to work due to a disability. But, there are two important dates that will become part of the benefits that are received: the onset date and the application date.

The onset date is the date that the person's disability actually began. For people who suffer from physical disabilities, this date can be fairly easy to determine, especially if the disability was the result of an accident. However, the onset date can be much harder to determine for a person suffering from a mental impairment.

It is not always easy to determine exactly when a person's mental impairment began. As a result, documentation regarding the beginning of treatment and possibly the prescription of medication can be useful in determining the onset date for a mental impairment.

Nonetheless, as important as the onset date is, it is the application date that makes a big difference for SSD benefits. When the Social Security Administration is determining the start date for SSD benefits, it is the application date they use -- not the onset date.

So, what is the importance of the interplay between the onset date and application date? The primary importance is that the closer the application date is to the onset date, the more likely the person is to receive benefits from a date that coincides with the time of the actual disability. Thus, anyone who believes that their physical or mental condition is a disability, will want to move quickly if an application for SSD benefits is needed.

Source: FindLaw.com, "What is My Disability Onset Date?," accessed on Oct. 31, 2015

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