Right now you’re at a Social Security Disability Hearing. You are claiming that you’ve been disabled and unable to work since a certain date, (let’s use as an example, January 1, 2011.) The Judge hearing your case has two choices—he/she can either grant your application (you win) or dismiss it (you lose.) Right?
Well, no. It’s more complicated than that. You see, a Social Security Law Judge must decide not only if you are disabled but also an “onset date”—the date that Social Security decides that your inability to work STARTED. And if the Law Judge feels you have weak medical evidence, or just wants to shave your claim down, the Judge might offer a deal—-a later “onset date” that pays you less “back” money but still pays you into the future. (In our example, for instance, the Judge might offer to find you disabled as of August 1st, 2011 rather than January 1st, causing you to lose a half year of back benefits.)
Deciding whether to accept such a deal at a Social Security hearing can be tricky. If you have other pending matters (like long term disability or COBRA) that look at the disability dates picked by the Social Security decision, you could mess up that other case. Or, it might have no effect.
So should you play “Let’s Make a Deal” at a Social Security hearing? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It’s always best to have an experienced Social Security Disability attorney at your side when confronting a deal-making Judge! (Many attorneys believe that if you turn down such a deal, the Judge may disallow the whole case so a half a loaf is usually better than none.) But still, the decision must be carefully thought over—it can have far-reaching implications!