Nate Craig of Truth of the Matter Asserted has a great article about what it means if a judge wants you to change the date you became disabled, or in Social Security parlance “amend your alleged onset date (AOD).”
Often, by the time the claimant’s hearing comes to be scheduled, the ALJ will review the file for the first time. During this review, the ALJ will determine if the onset date is established by the medical records. Most factors of a proposal to amend an onset date will be either a specific medical finding that seems to correlate with the claimant’s limitations or the claimant has earning posted to their earnings record, including unemployment benefits. Long story short, if the Judge is asking you to amend the onset date, they essentially are going to award benefits.
Nate makes a great point, but there is one exception to this general rule of thumb:
In a SSI (Supplemental Security Income) case, you can only get benefits back to the Protected Filing Date (PFD), the date you requested to file an application.
However, in many SSI cases, I see people claim that their disability began when they stopped being able to work. Normally this is months before they ever filed for Social Security.
I regularly see Judges asking claimants to change their Alleged Onset Date (AOD) to the Protected Filing Date (PFD). However, this is just a streamlining measure and does not necessarily mean the judge will approve the case. At least, not in my experience.
However, with this one exception, if the ALJ asks to amend the AOD to any other date, that is usually a good sign!
What if you don’t want to change your AOD?
As with most things in life, you can simply say, “no.” The judge cannot force you to change your AOD. And you can certainly make an argument why your onset date is correct and shouldn’t be changed.
The judge will listen and may even change his or her mind.
However, if you do not want to change your AOD and do not convince the judge, one possible outcome is a “Partly Favorable” decision.