When you apply for social security disability, you’ll be asked what date you say you became disabled. This date is known as your “alleged onset date” or AOD. Sometimes the answer is obvious. Since you cannot be “disabled” and earning over a certain amount (known as substantial gainful activity or SGA), sometimes it’s the date you stopped working. Other times, such as when you were in a car accident or a work accident and did not work after that, it will be the date of the accident.
For many people, their disability isn’t the result of an accident and occurred over the course of time. Although Social Security employees are willing to suggest an AOD for you, it’s important for you to understand the implications of the AOD. Among other things, if you’re approved for SSDI as of your AOD, that’s the date from which your two-year waiting period for Medicare will run.
Here are a few examples of how to figure out your AOD:
Susan has been working in care facility for 15 years. One day, while lifting a resident into a wheelchair, Susan severely injures her back and neck. Susan is unable to return to work following this incident.
Susan’s alleged onset date for purposes of her Social Security Disability claim would be the date of her accident at work. This would also be the same date she stopped working.
Monica has worked as a hairdresser for several years, during which she develops fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. She drops from full-time to part-time. Unfortunately, she finds that she cannot even continue part-time and quits working.
Monica’s alleged onset date for purposes of her Social Security Disability claim might the date she stopped working at all. But, it’s worth looking at her earnings to see if her alleged onset date actually could be set at when she went to part-time work. Figuring that out involves calculating how much she earned part-time to see if it exceeds the allowable amount (known as SGA). Of course, she will need medical evidence as well.
Understanding how your onset date can affect your case is important. Your lawyer will explain to you in greater detail why this date is important and how it matters at each level of your case.