Am I Getting the Right Amount of Money - Understanding Social Security's Date Calculations
Posted Apr 02 2009 11:43am
I received a question from one of my blog readers asking about date calculations. I wish I could tell you that understanding Social Security's date calculations and acronyms was easy but I can' t say that. I will try to offer some explanation about this confusing area.
i got an amended date signed by the judge but the social ser, office only went back to 2005 when i had the hearing and not the amended date that i was told they would go too. can you help me undersatnd this date stuff. –Sandra
My reponse: Sandra, for sake of this blog post, I am going to talk mainly about SSDI benefits. I'll touch on SSI but I'll make SSI date calculations the subject of a later post.
So that everyone is on the same page, when I speak about SSDI, I am talking about Title II disability - the kind of disability that you receive if you have worked and paid money into the system. In order to qualify for SSDI, you have to be "insured" and have enough credits. I am going to assume that Sandra has enough credits and that there is no issue regarding her eligibility for SSDI.
When you apply for SSDI, you will be asked about the "onset date" for your disability. Since you are contending that you no longer have the capacity to work, I usually find that a good onset date is the day that you left your last full time job. You can voluntarily change your onset date - sometimes I discover that my client chose a date that was many months after he was able to work and I amend the onset date to an earlier date. In other cases, I find that my client used an onset date that was two or three years before she stopped working - in that case I might recommend that we amend the onset date forward as it is hard to argue that my client is disabled when she was still working full time.
If you are not sure what date you used as your onset date, ask your attorney. He can usually get a copy of your original application for disability.
My point here is that when you walk into your hearing, you and your lawyer should be in agreement as to the onset date you are trying to prove.
Your judge, of course, is not bound to your choice of an onset date. I have been involved in many hearings where the judge changes the onset date - usually making it later. The judge will amend the onset date if he believes that the medical evidence does not support a finding of disability until XYZ date. Some judges will choose a date that relates to a surgery or a definitive diagnosis.
Sometimes judges will propose an amended onset date based on your age. If you meet a "grid" rule as of your 50th or 55th birthday, for example, your judge may propose amending the onset to that birthday.
In my experience, judges will raise the onset date issue during the hearing and offer you and your attorney an opportunity to amend the onset date.
The onset date, whether amended or not, represents the date that you meet Social Security's definition of disability. What does that have to do with payment? The answer - not much.
Payment issues and onset issues are completely different concepts. For payment purposes:
1. the first five full months after onset are not payable by SSDI - this is called the "5 month waiting period."
2. you can get paid up to 12 months prior to your date of application
1. Tom applied for benefits on 3/5/2007, alleging an onset date of 3/3/2007. He was approved. His first check will be for September, 2007. Why? He does not get paid for the partial month of March, 2007, plus the next five full months - April through August, 2007.
2. Sally applied for benefits on 2/7/06, alleging an onset date of 4/10/05. She was approved. Her first check will be for October, 2005. Why? She does not get paid for the partial month of April, 2005, plus the next five full months - May through September, 2005. If Sally is eligible for SSI, she collect SSI for April, 2005 through September, 2005. There is no 5 month waiting period for SSI benefits.
3. Ralph applied for benefits on 6/15/07, alleging an onset date of 3/17/03. He was approved. His first check will be for July, 2006. Why? He is eligible to receive benefits up to 12 months prior to filing. The five month waiting period ran in 2003, before he was eligible for payment.