Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pre-onset Medical Evidence

Disability applications require applicants to provide a date when they could no longer work. The claimant has the burden of proving that he or she became unable to work as of the onset date due to medical reasons. However, just because medical evidence may predate the relevant disability onset date, does not mean that the evidence is irrelevant. 

Medical records and reports that predate the disability onset can be used to establish disability as of the onset date, and thereafter. If the claimant’s post onset symptoms relate to the pre onset condition, then the records should be relevant to show that the severity of the condition progressed. While this may seem obvious, I had a Social Security Disability (“SSD”) claim denied by an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) from Queens who asserted that medical evidence predating the onset date was irrelevant. That case was eventually reversed in the claimants’ favor. 

I represent a claimant whose SSD application was approved by an ALJ from Jericho today, but only after providing pre onset medical evidence. Due to lack of medical insurance, the claimant had relatively little post onset medical evidence. However, medical records shortly before the onset included diagnostic testing that clearly established a progressive medical condition. The ALJ relied on the diagnostic testing in order to establish the onset date, as well as subsequent symptoms that supported continuing disability.

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