The Alleged Onset Date

Posted November 22, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

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).

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Social Security Disabled Widow Benefits

Posted November 15, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

The death of a spouse can be both emotionally and financially devastating. The Social Security Administration offers survivor benefits, including benefits for widows and widowers who are age sixty and over, whether or not they are disabled, or for those who are fifty or older and are disabled.

To be eligible for widows or widowers’ benefits, your deceased spouse must have paid enough into Social Security to insure his or her family for survivor benefits. The Social Security Administration can tell you whether he or she had enough work credits. Usually you are not eligible for disabled widow or widower’s benefits if you remarried before age fifty and are still married when you become disabled. Additionally, you must become disabled within seven years of the death of your spouse or within seven years of the end of your prior entitlement, if any, on your spouse’s earnings record.

Disabled surviving divorced spouses who were married to a deceased insured worker for more than ten years are also eligible under the same rules as widows and widowers. Social Security disability can be paid to a disabled widow or widower and to a disabled surviving divorced spouse simultaneously without reducing the amount of each other’s benefits.

The Social Security Administration will apply the same rules to determine whether you are disabled that they use for individuals applying for Social Security Disability Insurance under their own earnings record or for Supplemental Security Income.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

See more here: https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0410110001

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

The Future of Administrative Law Judge Selection

Posted November 8, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Administrative law judges (ALJs) are the workhorses of the administrative state. They preside over thousands of hearings annually in areas such as disability benefits, international trade, taxation, environmental law, occupational safety, and communications law, to name a few. There are nearly 2,000 ALJs employed by 28 agencies in the federal government, as compared to 870 authorized Article III federal judgeships.

Keeping this corps of ALJs fully staffed requires numerous appointments annually. Last year, in a decision that likely applies to most if not all federal ALJs, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Lucia v. SEC that SEC adjudicators are “officers of the United States” who must be appointed in accordance with the Constitution’s Appointments Clause. Assuming that ALJs are “inferior officers,” this clause allows Congress to delegate the appointment of ALJs to the President alone, to department heads, or to courts of law. Shortly after the decision in Lucia, President Trump issued an executive order that made significant changes to the ALJ hiring process.

Before Lucia and the executive order, most ALJs were already appointed by department heads, after a process administered by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that included a competitive examination and point rating system with a significant preference for veterans. Under the OPM process—which did not take subject-matter expertise into account—the three top-scoring applicants were placed on a list of eligible candidates. Agencies could hire only from that list unless they decided to reject all three candidates and request a new list or hire an incumbent ALJ away from another agency.

The reforms effectuated by the executive order were welcomed by many agencies that for decades felt hamstrung by the OPM hiring process. Many agencies acted very quickly, formulating and announcing new procedures for hiring ALJs when the ink on the executive order was barely dry. In fact, most agencies had been sidestepping the OPM process for years, hiring incumbent ALJs away from other agencies, mainly the U.S. Social Security Administration. The new process will allow agencies to hire their own ALJs directly without their desired candidates first needing to go through the OPM process, get hired by another agency, and then be hired away as a transfer.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

Original article: https://www.theregreview.org/2019/10/29/beermann-administrative-law-judge-selection/

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®