Hi, I am going to beg to differ on the statement that onset date can not go back more than 2 years prior to date of application (if I am reading that correctly). If anyone has a code section on that, I'd greatly appreciate seeing it. The reason I have to disagree is that I have represented several clients with very remote AODs and DLIs (mostly Vietnam vets who simply didn't get it together enough to file a claim, until a good decade later, due, of course, to their impairments). At any rate, while one can't get benefits more than 12 months prior to application, and I believe you are very familiar with that rule (and the 5 month waiting period). I very much understand why you are concerned with the effect on your PIA, those zero years, certainly. And while I agree very much with my colleagues that express that this is a complicated (and very case sensitive) topic that can't be truly determined here, we can discuss the areas of concern, certainly.
“... is there any reason the ALJ would not be required to accept their conclusions as true under the rules about opinion weight?”
Yes, unfortunately, it CAN happen, but if it is not based on “substantial evidence”, the ALJ’s decision COULD be overturned (not that you want to see that again). I recently had a case that lost and it was shocking. The 2 treating physicians had the same opinion, basically, as to limitations, and the Judge chose some nonsensical reasons, not based on the evidence (or so I am arguing in my appeal to the appeals council), to give zero weight to these doctors’ opinions. It was unreal. The only inconsistent opinion was from a workers compensation orthopedic doctor who only opined as to spinal impairment limitations, and who expressly noted that because the MRIs didn’t show objective reason for her pain (i.e nerve impingment/compression), there was no basis for any alleged limitation or pain. Not only did he NOT include an opinion on the migraine headaches every week for years, along with the vomiting, nor the fibromyalgia, nor the heel spurs, nor the torn meniscus, nor the mental health issues, nor the bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome his spinal considerations were only involving those that could be seen on radiographic or diagnostic imaging – by his own words. And our ALJ jumped on his wagon and denied. I was shocked, to say the least.
That all being said, it “normally” does not work that way. The Judge usually doesn’t appear so hell bent on denying that she’ll cherry pick what she’ll consider and kick the rest of the evidence to the curb. So push forward and push for that early date, if that is the reality of the situation. And, there should be no reason I can see that you can’t change the AOD officially now. We do that often enough when we have a client with a clearly WRONG AOD. The lower levels of SSA/DDS ignore our written request to change it, invariably, but the ALJ will have to address it at the hearing. Put it in writing (you probably already have) and get the AOD change on the record. Also, in your disability report (original), if you did one on paper (this is why it is good to NEVER go to the SSA to file a claim, they often screw up the data entry), show them around #4 or so, where it asks when you stopped working, and why, and where you put “due to my conditions.” It should at least be obvious that there was an error of some sort, because we don’t tend to see people applying for benefits on the exact date that they become disabled. “Gee, today I feel disabled, finally, after all my problems. Let me go apply. I won’t tell them about my last several months/years, it is just today it started at this level – even though I had to stop working because of it years ago.” So yes, ALJ can refuse to allow them to be controlling, but you use your testimony as to AOD, your work stoppage date, any other medical and layperson evidence, including witnesses you may bring to hearing - and fight that good fight.
This question is far too complicated to provide a general answer here. I would suggest that if your current representative cannot answer your questions, you should seek a second opinion.
You can find a Board certified specialist in Social Security by contacting the National Board of Trial Advocacy. They evaluate lawyers (independently) in many types of claims and require extensive experience and testing before a lawyer is certified. They have a section specifically for Social Security: The National Board of Social Security Disability Advocacy, Divisions of the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification.
Their link is: http://www.nblsc.us/
You may also contact your local city, county or state bar association to see if they have a lawyer referral program, or you may contact your local legal aid office if you cannot afford an attorney. If there is a law school in your area, you may contact their legal clinic as well. Or, use the “Attorney Finder” feature of Avvo for help with that.
Finally, you may also contact the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) for the name and email address or telephone number of attorneys in your area. The telephone number for the lawyer referral service of NOSSCR is 1-800-431-2804. NOSSCR's website is www.nosscr.org.
I hope this information helps. Good luck to you!
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I agree with the above attorney here. You have a very complicated case, and you need to sit down with an attorney and have them go over all the components of your case in order to properly advise you. If you already have an attorney, he or she should be able to provide you with this service. If you do not have an attorney, I would strongly recommend when you search for one you inquire about his or her experience with appeal work. Not all attorneys that handle disability cases at the ALJ level regularly work on cases at the Appeals Council Level and Federal Court level. This would be very important given the nature of your case.
Best of luck to you in resolving this matter.
You have touched on a complicated topic. Unfortunately if your filing date is in Dec. 2009, then your onset date cannot go back to 2001. SSI has no retroactivity and SSDI can only go back approximately 2 years. This is true regardless of your medical status and doctor's testimony. I realize that those years with no earnings negatively impacts your PIA, but I think your prospects of getting a ALJ to change your onset date is minimal.
Hey everyone. I think what happened is she was found disabled as of 2009 and was not insured and gets ssi now, only. The appeal issue is probably related to her last date insured, which is probably 2005-6. So I am guessing, she is trying to go back to the last date insured to get some ssd and back pay going back a year before her application, and medicare. I suspect her rep has not explained this well. Also, even though she meets the listing from 2009, she may have still qualified at step 5 before. This case could be solid. Obviously, I don't have her file. Point is, go to hearing # 3 and fight.