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Sometimes in a disability case, the medical evidence lags behind the disability. There is often not a strong medical record as of the day an impairment became disabling. Over time, however, with repeated doctor visits, the medical picture usually becomes clear.

So the problem is: how do you prove disability as of the alleged onset date?

To provide the judge with medical evidence regarding onset, I will often add the following language to the medical source statement form that I send to the claimant’s treating physician:

Based upon my training, education and experience, and based upon my treatment of <claimant’s name>, the limitations set forth above reflect my opinion of <claimant’s> functional limitations from <alleged onset date> to Present.

That language gets typed just above the doctor’s signature line, where the doctor will definitely see it. If the doctor disagrees with the alleged onset date, he crosses it out.

Once the form is signed, the treating source is giving an opinion that the claimant’s functional limitations have existed since onset.

Should the judge ask “well what about the onset date?” at the hearing, you can point out that language on the form, and that the treating source opinion relates the claimant’s functional limitations back to the onset date.