It is important to choose an onset date of disability that coincides with the date you stopped working due to your disability. Work is defined by the SSA as working at the level of substantial gainful activity, which means earning greater than $1130 per month in 2016. If you are earning over the level of substantial gainful activity, you are not eligible to apply for disability benefits. If you stop working for reasons other than disability and then become disabled, you can choose an onset date that coincides with your doctor's opinion of when your disability began.
Do not chose an onset date of disability in the past when you were working. While you may have had a medical impairment that started when you were working, the onset date of your disability cannot be alleged until your work has ceased. The date you allege disability is also important because it will be the date that is used to calculate your back benefits and your Medicare benefits. If you are awarded SSI benefits, your monthly benefits will begin on the day that you applied for SSI benefits. However, if you are approved for Social Security disability benefits, you will have a five month waiting period from your established date of disability. SSD benefits can be paid a year prior to the date of your application, as long as you were not working. Therefore, it is important to choose an alleged onset date of disability that coincides with the date you became disabled and the date that you were no longer able to work.