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The alleged onset date (AOD) in a social security disability application is the date that you claim you became disabled.  If your severe impairments were the result of a car wreck or a work injury, then you might pick the date of the accident as your AOD.  When your disability results from a disease or a progressive ailment, then it’s more difficult to pinpoint the right AOD.  Picking the right date is very important.

Factors Affecting Alleged Onset Date

The first rule in picking an alleged onset date is that it has to be before your date last insured.  In a prior post, we learned that in order to qualify for benefits, your disability has to begin before your date last insured.  After that date, you are not covered for benefits.

Also, you will want to consider your earnings, medical records and prior denials of disability when you select an AOD.  If you are trying to establish disability, then you are stating that you can’t work.  For social security disability purposes, you only have to prove that you can’t earn wages above “substantial gainful activity.”  You must make sure that your alleged onset date begins after your earnings drop below this level.  You can’t be disabled under the law if you are earning wages above the threshold. 

It’s also important to make sure that you have the right medical records to prove an AOD.  You should have medical records dated close in time to the date you claim you became disabled.  These records should document your impairments and their affect on your work ability.

Finally, you have to be careful about any prior denials of social security disability.  If you have already been to a hearing and lost, then you can’t claim to be disabled prior to the date of that hearing.  The judge already ruled on it.  What’s done is done.  Make sure, in this situation, that your alleged onset date is a date sometime after that judge’s decision.

How Your AOD Affects Your Disability Award

You can get paid benefits for up to 12 months prior to the date you file an application for disability.  When you factor in the 5 month waiting period imposed by the SSA, then you will want to prove disability as far back as 17 months before your AOD to maximize your award.  You have to remember that you must be disabled for 12 months before you are eligible for benefits.  This is the durational requirement for social security disability.  If your alleged onset date is not at least 12 months prior to the date the SSA rules on your application, then you may not be eligible for benefits.  In that case, you would have to prove that you expect to continue to be disabled beyond that date.

The alleged onset date can be changed by the SSA when they rule on your award.  What if the judge finds that you were not disabled at the time you claim, but did become disabled 6 months after the AOD you put on your application?  That could cost you all or part of your back pay award.  So, it’s important to get the AOD right, and to support that date with evidence.  Benefits won’t be paid for time periods before the onset date. If you need to appeal a denial of your disability application, please talk to a lawyer about your options.