Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Amending Onset To Avoid Hearing

Sometimes Social Security Disability (“SSD”) claims are denied in whole or part because of the date that the claimant selected as the onset of the disability, known as the alleged onset date (“AOD”). Stated differently, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) may agree that the claimant is disabled, but may disagree as to when the disability began. 

I avoided a hearing today because I amended the onset date forward a few months. Although amending the AOD decreased the size of the disability period, it did not reduce the claimant’s SSD benefits. There is a full five month waiting period for SSD benefits. An applicant can receive SSD benefits for a maximum of 12 months before the month of the application. Thus, if the AOD is amended prior to the 17 month period, then no SSD benefits are lost. 

Amending an AOD to a later date can make it easier for an ALJ to approve SSD benefits without a hearing for numerous reasons. The later date may be consistent with an increase in medical treatment. The later date could coincide with a notable medical record, such as an MRI. The later date may place the claimant into a different age category that facilitates granting SSD benefits, and so on. The major caveat is ensuring that the new AOD does postdate the date last insured.

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