When we file applications for Social Security Disability benefits, our office routinely will file for the earliest possible onset of your disability. However, there are occasions where the Administration will request that we amend that onset date to a later period of time, and withdraw our claim for the earlier benefits. This frequently happens at hearings, where an Administrative Law Judge will essentially "make a deal" with us to forgo some back pay in exchange for a Favorable Notice of Decision.
Common reasons for amending an onset date include a change of age category (i.e., a claimant's 50th or 55th birthday) and change in the medical evidence (beginning of treatment, updated diagnostic testing, surgical intervention, new injury or illness). Some of these events are out of your control, and depending on how large a period of benefits is at stake, are not worth fighting over. Other events, such as when you begin to treat with a physician or complain of an ailment, are well within your control. Accordingly, it is important that you treat and document your symptoms as early as possible to protect your entitlement to benefits.
Other factors to consider are when your application was actually filed (SSA can only pay up to one year of retroactive benefits from the date you filed your application), and whether there is sufficient evidence to support filing an appeal (which extends the process and potentially puts your benefits at risk).
If there is an issue regarding amending the onset of your disability, we will discuss it with you, noting the advantages and disadvantages, and will make our recommendations. Ultimately, it is the claimant who is responsible for making the decision, but we will do our best to help you make an informed decision. If you have questions about this, or any other issue relating to your SSD application, please do not hesitate contacting our office at (212) 766-5800.