When you apply for disability benefits, Social Security will ask you when your disability began. Your response becomes the alleged onset date, or AOD. Your AOD is an important part of your application. It can, for example, mark the point at which your back benefits begin to accumulate.
Calculating Your AOD
In determining your AOD, you need to keep a few things in mind. First, note that your AOD should not be earlier than when you were no longer able to work full time. In reviewing cases, I see examples of people continuing to work for years after their AODs. I think this is because when people apply for disability benefits they do not think in terms of when they stopped working. Rather, they think in terms of when their illnesses or conditions began. Consider a bad back. An applicant might have been dealing with a bad back for ten years before finally not being able to work any longer. When Social Security asks when your disability began, it makes sense to say when the back pain began. But that is not an accurate AOD if you kept working despite back pain.
Do Your Medical Records Support Your AOD?
The second thing to remember when deciding on your AOD is that there needs to be medical records to document your claim as of
that date. Consider again the applicant with the bad back who kept working. If he did not seek treatment for his back, it will be all but impossible to get benefits for that time frame. This is because Social Security will need medical evidence to support his claim of disability.
A Date Much More Than 1 Year Before Your Application Will Not Help Much
You might think that it makes no difference if you pick an AOD that is far in the past. But it can. Remember that Social Security cannot pay you benefits for more than twelve months before you apply. So, any date much beyond that is not going to do you much good in any event.
A Question Of Credibility
There is also the question of credibility. I have had cases where people claim they were first disabled fifteen or even twenty years ago. While that could be true, such an allegation is going to raise some eyebrows. Social Security already thinks that all applicants are lying or exaggerating. An AOD that is too far in the past is going to reinforce their belief about you. This means you could be starting out on the back foot before anything happens on your claim.
Exceptions Do Apply
As always, there are a lot of exceptions and variations to take into account. I am happy to discuss this with you. But, keep these general principles in mind as you apply for Social Security disability and tell them when you first became disabled. Choosing a good AOD can help you get approved.