When you are applying for Social Security disability benefits (or SSI), Social Security asks a question that has tripped up a lot of my clients:
When did you become disabled?
Whatever date you provide, that becomes your alleged onset date or “AOD.”
Why does choosing the AOD trip up so many people?
First of all, it’s because the AOD is so dang important!
If you say you became disabled in March, it means you weren’t disabled in either January or February or any time before March. And if you weren’t disabled, then Social Security isn’t going to pay you disability benefits for those months.
So, picking the correct AOD directly affects how many months of BACK BENEFITS you’ll get!
Some disabilities, like those caused by injuries and accidents (such as getting hurt at work or being involved in a car accident) can be locked down to a particular day.
However, other conditions slowly progress over time. You may have even worked for quite a bit of time after you were diagnosed with your condition or conditions. And, since Social Security defines disability as being unable to work, the unspoken part of the “when did you become disabled” question is…
When did your conditions become so bad that they stopped you from being able to work?
If you were working full-time and then had to stop due to your disabilities, that rephrasing helps you come up with your AOD.
However, it is still not perfect. What if you went from full-time to part-time, or changed positions, or stopped working for a bit and then took a lower paid or less demanding job? That raises a lot of issues:
Maybe you can even ignore that last job you did and pick an earlier date for the start of your disability? And that is certainly possible.
One of the things I help my clients with is picking the right AOD for their case. Sometimes, I can add months of extra benefits. It is a matter of applying the regulations to make sure you get everything you have already paid for with Social Security.
- If you have read this blog before, you know Social Security does not always pay all the way back to the AOD. Click to get an idea of how far back Social Security can pay benefits.
- Also see, “What if the Judge wants me to change the date my disability began?“