Choosing an Onset Date for Social Security Disability
By Mike Wolter, Attorney
Parmele Law Firm, P.C.
When you begin your application for Social Security disability benefits, one of the questions you will be asked is “when did your disability begin?” Many people think this question is asking them when their condition was diagnosed. For example, assume someone (let’s call him Bob) had a car accident in January 2012 in which he broke a vertebrae in his back. George was off of work for a few weeks but then returned to full-time work which lasted until June 2014. During that time, the back pain steadily worsened until George quit his job and filed for Social Security disability. When George was filling out the application for Social Security disability, he came to the question concerning when his disability began. George put down that his disability began in January 2012 because that is when his condition started. This seems to make logical sense to many people. However, it is not a good answer for Social Security purposes.
In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, your condition must prevent you from doing full-time work at a certain income level (for 2017 that level is $1170 per month – https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/sga.html). In George’s case, he is saying he was completely unable to work as of 2012, but his work records will show that he continued to work full-time until June 2014. This means that, under the SSA definition of disability, he was not disabled until at least June 2014. George needs to pick an onset date after June 2014 or else his case may be viewed with suspicion from the people reviewing it. When reviewing the case, the Social Security Administration, then later an Administrative Law Judge, may question your credibility if they see you worked full-time after the day you claim you became disabled. You are basically saying you are disabled but still able to work, which under Social Security law, is inconsistent.
Advice from a Social Security Disability Law Firm
Many people fill out the Social Security disability application on their own and then, if they get denied, they seek legal representation. In the course of reviewing a case, it is likely that your attorney will examine your application to see what you alleged as your “onset date.” If the attorney sees something like the example above, it is likely that you will be asked to “amend” or change your onset date in order to make your case more consistent when put in front of the judge. As with any issue in these cases, having someone who understands the intricacies of Social Security law can be useful in determining an effective onset date in your case. Contact Parmele Law Firm for more information.
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