Everyone who applies for Social Security hopes for a fully favorable decision. Typically, adjudicators will issue either a fully favorable decision, or a denial. At times, however, an adjudicator may render a partially favorable decision.
The partially favorable decision is not common, but may be appropriate under a variety of circumstances. A partially favorable decision could be for a closed period of benefits, or with an established onset date different than the one initially alleged by the claimant.
For example, where a claimant was unable to engage in substantial gainful activity due to a severe medical impairment for over twelve months, but has since received treatment or therapy which allowed the claimant to return to work full time, a closed period of benefits would be most appropriate.
Alternately, if a claimant alleges an earlier onset date, but the medical evidence does not establish a complete inability to engage in substantial gainful activity until later, an established onset date would be more appropriate. Keep in mind that Social Security Administration also considers age categories as a determining factor in step five of the evaluation process. The medical-vocational rules used by Social Security Administration make it easier to get approved in later age categories. So, if medical impairments reduce a claimant to sedentary work only, and the claimant has no transferable skills to sedentary occupations, that individual will typically win his or her disability claim at age 50. Similarly, at age 55, they can win if they are reduced to a light residual functional capacity.
At disability hearings, a representative might suggest a claimant consider amending the onset date to receive a fully favorable decision. The decision writers at Social Security Administration often require special instructions for partially favorable decisions, which result in processing delays. To avoid further delays, a claimant may want to consider amending the onset date, but by no means is it required. Any decision, including a partially favorable decision, is appealable. However, appealing a fully favorable decision where the claimant has amended the onset date will likely yield unfavorable results with the Appeals Council.