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What Happens When Social Security Disagrees with My Alleged Onset Date?

Posted on in Social Security Disability Medical Conditions

IL disability lawyerThere are situations where Social Security may award disability benefits but fix a different onset date than alleged by the applicant. The alleged onset date is basically the day you became unable to work due to your physical or mental impairments. This date is important because, under Social Security regulations, a successful applicant can claim up to 12 months of retroactive benefits from the date of their application.

In other words, let's say Mary filed for disability benefits in January 2018 with an alleged onset date of June 2017. If Social Security subsequently grants the application and agrees with the onset date, Mary would be entitled to retroactive benefits starting in November 2017, or five months after the alleged onset date. (Social Security imposes a five-month waiting period for all disability benefits.)

Magistrate Finds Social Security's Reasons Unclear for Disagreeing with Plaintiff's Alleged Onset Date

If Social Security grants your application but disagrees with your alleged onset date, you can appeal the latter decision. Social Security must then show why it determined the applicant did not become legally disabled until a different date than alleged.

For example, a federal magistrate judge in Illinois recently ordered Social Security to reconsider the alleged onset date of a successful disability applicant. The plaintiff in this case filed for disability benefits in December 2012 due to a number of impairments arising from her contracting West Nile encephalitis. In her application, the plaintiff provided an alleged onset date of August 21, 2012.

A Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ) determined the plaintiff was disabled, but that her onset date was not until much later – specifically, February 18, 2015. That was the date a medical expert confirmed through a “neuropsychological evaluation” that the plaintiff “suffered from a variety of cognitive defects.” The ALJ “gave great weight” to this opinion, the magistrate noted.

The ALJ also credited the opinion of a second expert, who performed an earlier neuropsychological evaluation of the plaintiff in December 2012, the plaintiff's alleged onset date. Although the magistrate said the results of the 2012 and 2015 exams “were substantially the same,” the 2012 doctor found the applicant was still capable of working in spite of her condition.

The magistrate said it simply was not clear why the ALJ would consider the plaintiff disabled in 2015 but not 2012 given the virtually identical test results. And in fact, the expert who performed the 2015 exam did not rule out the possibility that the plaintiff was disabled in 2012. He “merely opined that [the plaintiff] was disabled at least as far back as February 18, 2015, without considering the possibility of an earlier onset date.” The magistrate, therefore, directed the ALJ to conduct a new hearing on this issue.

Speak with a Chicago Social Security Disability Attorney Today

When it comes to disability benefits, your onset date plays a critical role in determining how much you can receive from the Social Security Administration. This is why it is important to work with an experienced Chicago disability benefits lawyer who can help you present the strongest case possible to Social Security. Contact Pearson Disability Law, LLC, at 312-999-0999 today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.




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