The alleged onset date, or AOD, is the date that you claim (“allege”) that your disability began. This date is important from an eligibility standpoint, and it can also affect the amount of retroactive benefits, or backpay, that you may be entitled to.
To be eligible for disability benefits, your medical condition or conditions must put you out of work (or be expected to put you out of work) for at least 12 months. You should therefore allege an onset date that coincides with when you stopped working or became no longer able to work, even if you were diagnosed with your condition(s) much earlier.
For Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims, you become entitled to benefits either one year before your application date or five full months after the onset of your disability, whichever is the latest in time. For Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims, you become entitled to benefits either from the date of your application or the date you became disabled, again whichever is the latest in time.
If the Social Security Administration (SSA) disagrees with the date you say you became disabled, it can establish a later onset date. When the SSA sets the onset date, it is then called the established onset date (EOD), rather than the alleged onset date (AOD). However, the SSA has to have contrary medical evidence to show that your alleged date is wrong and that its EOD is correct.
To determine your EOD, the SSA will look at your AOD, when you last worked, and what the medical evidence shows. For example, if the SSA finds that you went back to work for some time period after applying for benefits, the agency will likely give the applicant an EOD of the date the applicant last worked this job. (However, a claimant who applies for benefits because of an inability to work and then tries to go back to work and fails might be able to claim an “unsuccessful work attempt” and keep the original alleged onset date.)
If the SSA changes your AOD to a later EOD, causing you to lose some backpay, you can appeal the decision by asking Disability Determination Services (DDS) to do a reconsideration of your claim. Or, if you are at the hearing level, you can ask an administrative law judge or the Appeals Council to review the EOD. But beware: when you appeal the onset date, the reviewing body could potentially reverse your approval. Moreover, sometimes when the SSA changes your AOD to a later EOD, it may still be more than 17 months earlier than the date you applied for disability benefits. In this case, the change in date won’t matter, since you can’t get paid backpay benefits for more than 12 months before your application date (plus the five-month waiting period).
By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®