When you first file for disability benefits, you will need to choose an alleged onset date.
Typically, this is the date that you stopped working due to a medical condition. If the Social Security Administration issues a favorable decision in your case, your back benefits will be calculated based on this date.
However, if you appeal your case to the hearing level, a judge will often ask if you want to amend your onset to a later date.
There are several reasons why a judge will ask this.
Often, the medical evidence simply doesn’t support the earlier date. There may not be any documentation going back this far.
A medical expert may also testify that while they don’t believe you were disabled on your alleged onset date, your impairments rendered you disabled as of a date several months, or even years, later.
It’s also important to remember that the SSA’s rules make it easier to be found disabled after your 50th birthday with what are commonly called the “grid rules.”
If you picked an alleged onset date when you were 49, and are 50 at your hearing, a judge may ask if you would like to amend your onset date to your 50th birthday to be found disabled.
If you agree to an amended onset date, you will receive less money in back benefits (and possibly no back pay at all depending on the date the judge comes up with).
However, accepting the judge’s amended onset date does come with the piece of mind of knowing you’ll receive a favorable decision.
If you choose not to accept the amended onset date, the judge may issue a partially favorable decision, in which case he or she will still find you disabled as of the date it was suggested that you amend to. The judge also may issue an unfavorable decision in your case.
Because there’s so much to consider with an amended onset date, it’s important to have an experienced disability attorney on your side at a hearing.