Monday, August 29, 2011

When To Amend The Disability Onset Date

Telling the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) that you want to change an application for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits to reflect a later disability onset date can result in a faster approval, possibly without losing any benefts.

I represent a former plastics salesperson whose May 26, 2011 SSD application said she became disabled in August 2005, at which time she was 48 years old. The SSA denied the claimant’s application on August 4, 2011, and I received the claim file a week later. I then filed an on-the-record (“OTR”) appeal on August 14, 2011, which amended the claimant’s onset date from August 2005 to her 50th birthday in July 2007. The five month waiting period would be satisfied as of January 2008.

The SSA can pay SSD benefits up to 12 months before the month in which an application is filed. Thus, the earliest date when the claimant could potentially receive benefits was May 2010.

In order to qualify for SSD benefits, an applicant must establish disability before the “date last insured (DLI).” The claimant’s DLI was March 31, 2008, which was after her 50th birthday.

I filed the claimant’s OTR on August 14, 2011. The SSA approved and paid the SSD benefits within two weeks after the OTR was filed.

Under the circumstances applicable to the claimant’s case, the Medical – Vocational Rules made it easier for her to establish disability as of her 50th birthday. Without the amendment, it is likely that the OTR would not have been approved. Since the claimant’s SSD benefits could not be paid prior to May 2010, establishing disability as of July 2007 instead of August 2005 did not result in a decrease of benefits.

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