Assigning disability onset dates for hospitalized mental patients

For purposes of Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits, the Social Security Administration must determine a disability onset date for each applicant. The onset date can affect the applicant’s eligibility for benefits, and the pay period if benefits are awarded. Since SSDI and SSI payments begin with the date of an individual’s application and are not made retroactively, the onset date will not directly affect the amount of benefits received. Missouri residents hospitalized with mental conditions, as well as their loved ones, may be interested in knowing how the SSA sets disability onset dates in these cases.

In assigning an onset date, the SSA considers the applicant’s statements and work history, as well as medical evidence. Special considerations apply when the applicant is hospitalized with a mental illness or disorder. For these applicants, the SSA will consider the applicant’s medical records, as well as a medical report prepared by an attending doctor.

In some cases the onset date will be prior to the date the applicant was hospitalized. The SSA will review the applicant’s medical history, paying particular attention to the date before hospitalization when significant mental symptoms first appeared. The SSA will also consider the condition of the applicant when they were admitted.

An earlier onset date can also be assigned based on detailed information provided by hospital staff, as long as it is consistent with an available work record. The SSA may also consider statements by non-medical witnesses regarding abnormal behavior or inability to work. The SSA may contact former employers, family members and others in order to establish an onset date for the individual’s disabling condition.

Establishing a disability onset date is just one of a number of issues that must be addressed by an individual applying for Social Security disability benefits for a mental condition. Understanding what evidence the SSA requires, for this and other issues, can increase the chances of an application being approved.

Source:, “What is My Disability Onset Date?” accessed Jan. 8, 2017

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Military Law
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Social Security Disability
Worker’s Compensation
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