Approved for Disability, Should I Appeal Onset Date?

The amount of backpay for a adult disabled child depends on the application date and disability onset date.

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Question

I was just approved for adult child disability benefits on my father's Social Security earnings record. I was able to prove that I was disabled before age 22, which was back in 1984. I applied in November 2001, but Social Security says my backpay will be paid only back to April 2001.  My father applied for his retirement benefits in October 1997 and started receiving his retirement benefits in January 1998. Can I use my father's application date for determining when my back pay of benefits should begin? Shoudn't the back pay have started in November 2000? I am deciding whether or not to appeal the onset date. The reason I think I may have a right to do this is because my benefits are based off of my father's Social Security record.

Answer

You may be right. But can you use your father's application date for determining when your back pay starts? No, for the category in which you are in, your earliest possible onset would have been January 1998, the time your father began to receive his retirement benefits. But that scenario would have been dependent on your filing much sooner than you actually did. 

Since you applied in November 2001, you should get 12 months of retroactive benefits, so your EOD, or established onset date, should be November 2000. While other recipients of SSDI have a five-month waiting period after their EOD to receive benefits, the waiting period does not apply to disabled adult children.

But it appears that Social Security did apply the five-month waiting period to your case. When the five-month waiting period applies, benefits start on the date of entitlement, which is the onset date plus the five-month waiting period for SSDI. In this case, the date of entitlement would be April 2001.

But since you were found to be medically disabled prior to age 22, your five-month waiting period should have been wiped out, which would then give you benefits starting in November 2000.

I would suggest that you communicate with a claims rep at your local Social Security office. The rep may be able to correct the mistake without your having to go through an appeal, so that you get a full twelve months of retroactive benefits.

Updated by: , J.D.

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