What Happens When You File A Second Social Security Disability Claim?

If you are filing a second SSA disability claim (under Social Security Disability or SSI), the chances are you did not appeal your initial disability denial or perhaps you have gone through the entire appeal process and were not approved for disability benefits.

If you did not appeal your initial disability claim denial, here is some advice: If your initial disability claim is denied, the best course of action to take is to file an appeal. That is because the chances are that if your initial disability claim is denied, then you are unlikely to be approved on multiple initial disability claims.

The reason for this is fairly clear. The decision on the initial disability claim is made by a disability examiner at disability determination services, the state-level agency that makes claim decisions for the social security administration. Claimants who are denied on a claim and then file a brand new disability application (as opposed to filing an appeal) will simply be subjected to the same evaluation process.

The process does not change, and, therefore, the outcome does not change.

The goal in filing a disability claim is to win your disability benefits, and you cannot do that if you are constantly filing initial disability claims that are denied. Despite this fact, there are many claimants who never utilize the appeal process and, instead, simply file new claim after new claim after new claim.

As a disability examiner, I frequently saw cases in which the claimant had filed as many as seventeen claims. In the time that had been consumed with these multiple new claims, the claimant could have A) filed a reconsideration appeal, and if that appeal had been denied (reconsiderations are usually denied) then B) filed a request for a hearing before an administrative law judge. At a hearing, the chances of approval can be exceedingly good for those with competent representation; claimants with representation, in fact, have a better than sixty percent approval rate.

To appeal your initial disability claim, you need to submit a request a reconsideration. You can get the process started by simply contacting the local social security office at which point they will send you the appropriate forms.

If you have representation, of course, your representative will take care of this. Whoever does the appeal, however, should complete the appeal paperwork (or online forms if the appeal is being done online) and return any necessary forms to Social Security.

If you file your appeal online, make sure to complete the disability report form (the form that gathers your medical and work information) as well as your online appeal form. Remember, it is important to return any necessary forms to SSA and within the appeal time period (appeals must always be submitted within sixty days from the date of the last denial).

Do not be discouraged if your reconsideration appeal is denied because the vast majority of these appeals are denied (in most states, more than 80 percent of reconsiderations are turned down), and generally they are just the next step toward an administrative law judge hearing.

Administrative law judge disability hearings are the most "winnable" level of the Social Security Disability process; as was previously stated, approximately two thirds of all disability applicants who appeal their disability claim to this level, and have representation, win their SSD or SSI disability benefits.

If you get denied at a hearing

Much of the preceding information concerned those who failed to appeal a denial of their initial disability claim. But what about those individuals who have gone through the appeal process, only to be denied at their disability hearing?

If you were denied at your administrative law judge disability hearing, you should consider what might have caused your claim to be denied. Some things you just cannot help such as your age. Some younger individuals with disabling impairments have a hard time winning disability benefits even at a disability hearing.

However, there are other individuals who are denied at their hearing because they were not prepared and could not convey a good picture of their disabling condition or conditions; or they decided to represent their own disability claim at their hearing while knowing absolutely nothing about Social Security Disability medical and vocational disability guidelines.

Claimants who are denied at a hearing have several options. They can give up. They can take the next appeal step, which is the appeals council where the decisions of administrative law judges are reviewed. Or, they can file a brand new disability application.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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