For many applicants, the pursuit of Social Security Disability benefits might require more than one application for benefits, an appeal of a decision. Some cases might even require both.
The wait can be long and the process frustrating, but fighting for benefits is often something can't always be avoided. A physical and/or mental limitations prevent you from earning a substantial living, however bills and expenses do not stop. Benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA) can help replace place income, allowing you to cover your daily expenses and other financial obligations.
While there is no limit on the number of times you can apply for Social Security disability benefits, submitting a new application may not be the best course of action. In fact, reapplying at the wrong time may simply be a waste of your time and effort. The circumstances of your case will determined if the best course of action would be to start a new application, or if filing an appeal.
Submitting a New Disability Application
Timing is everything when it comes to reapplying after a denial. This is because the SSA disability examiners that review applications for benefits must follow strict guidelines as laid out in the SSA Blue book. If nothing has changed regarding the medical evidence that you provide or the severity of your condition, it is likely that that outcome will remain the same.
If your disability has worsened, or if you have new, significant medical evidence, then reapplying may be the right decision. Likewise, if your application was denied the last time because key pieces of medical evidence weren’t available, then you may decide to reapply now and submit the necessary medical records along with your application or soon after.
Again, the SSA’s guidelines for what constitutes disability are strict, which means you must have the right medical evidence to prove you’re disabled and therefore eligible for benefits. Your doctor can help you decide when may be the right time to reapply by reviewing the SSA’s disability listing details in the Blue Book. He or she can then advise you on whether you meet or match a listed condition and would therefore have a better chance of approval with a new application. Be sure to keep a detailed record of all of the diagnosis that you have received from your doctor as well as any medical testing that you have undergone. This can all be used as evidence for your case.
Filing a Social Security Application Appeal
Although it can take months, or sometimes over a year, before an appeal hearing is scheduled, appealing may be the right move with your disability claim. If you’re denied benefits, you can request an appeal and have your case reviewed by an administrative law judge.
It’s also important to note that while you wait for an appeal hearing to happen, you can reapply for benefits if something changes with your disability. In other words, if your condition worsens and you precisely meet the Blue Book listing for your disability, then you can submit a new application. If you meet a disability listing exactly, then you will be able to qualify for disability benefits assuming all of the technical requirements are also met in addition.
How Many Times Can You Appeal A Social Security Decision?
If you have been denied disability benefits, the next step will be to appeal the decision. There is not a set number of times that you can appeal a decision. That is because it is process, or series of steps that have to be completed in order to appeal the decision. Each one is different, therefore you will need to prepare differently for each stage in the process. There are four steps in the appeals process. With each step you will either be awarded benefits or denied and will have move on to the next step.
The first appeal step is a Request for Reconsideration. This is the first appeal. When applying for disability benefits, your case is reviewed by medical experts. If your initial application is denied, you can ask for reconsideration. Your appeal will then be reviewed by a group of medical examiners and experts that is different than the ones that originally denied your case. At this stage, approval is not common. Although different groups of experts, they are following the same specific guidelines laid out in the SSA blue book.
After being denied for the first time or at the reconsideration stage, you will receive some information about why your claim is denied. It is important that you use this information when you appeal the decision for the first time. The SSA will give you details on what was missing from your case. You can use this information to gather new evidence and have your case heard by an Administrative Law Judge. This is the second appeal stage.
Administrative Law Judge Hearing
At the ALJ hearing, you will be able to present your case in front of a judge. It is important to know that you only have 60 days to request a hearing after you have been denied. The combination of additional time to bolster your case, and your ability to present in front of a live judge greatly increases your chances of approval. It is important that you do not give up before you get to this point in the appeals process. It is also important to have an attorney or advocate on your side that has experience presenting your case to the court.
It is not as common to get this stage and even less common to get approved. The appeals council is the third appeal. At this point, you will only be approved for benefits if there has been an error in the way that your case was handled at the ALJ hearing. One example of a case that is looked at by the appeals council is when you did not get a fair trial, the standard procedures of an ALJ hearing are not followed, or the decision by the ALJ was not based on the evidence that you presented.
Federal Court Review
The fourth step in the appeals process is the federal court review. At this stage, there has been an enormous amount of time, energy and money that has been consumed. At this stage a federal judge will look for legal errors in the case and can overturn or send cases back to the SSA.
Getting this far in the appeals process is not always recommended because of how many resources are expended at that point. However, making that decision on your own can be difficult.
Getting Help with Your Social Security Disability Claim
Filing for benefits over and over again definitely gets old and you may feel as though you’ll never come out on the winning side. A disability advocate or attorney can help alleviate some of your stress by advising you on the timing of appeals and refilling. He or she can additionally help you collect crucial evidence to support your claim and potentially increase your chances of approval in the process.