An SSI disability appeal is better than a new claim
The point of this post is to illustrate a few insights as to why it is better to follow the Social Security Disability appeals process, versus starting over with a new disability application. And to do that, let me relate a recent experience.
I was speaking to someone the other day who, like me, is a former disability examiner for Social Security Disability and SSI claims. The question that came up was: "What's the biggest unique you ever saw on a new file?"
Ok, I better explain what I mean by this. Unique numbers refer to how many times a disability claimant has filed for Social Security Disability or SSI disability. My answer was 22. My friend had actually seen one as high as 25.
Now, what does all of this mean? Well, here it is: When a person files a claim for SSD or SSI and gets denied, they have three choices: 1. give up completely (and many people do), 2. file an appeal and follow the appeals process, and 3. start over with a brand new application for Social Security Disability or SSI.
If a person decides to start over with a new claim (usually, this is a terrible choice), then you add one to their total unique number. So, for the person whose unique number was 22, this meant that they had filed close to two dozen times.
What's wrong with this? Well, it's not really productive. A person who chooses not to file a Social Security Disability appeal and instead chooses to begin a new claim will, typically, be denied again. And if they keep starting new claims versus filing an appeal...they will, most likely, be denied over and over and over (get the point?) again.
The reason why a Social Security Disability or SSI claimant should nearly always (I say "nearly always" because there are a limited number of situations in which a new application is the best route, but this is a very limited number of situations) file an appeal is this: ultimately, you want your disability claim to be reviewed at a disability hearing, held by an administrative law judge who specializes in adjudicating Social Security Disability and SSI claims.
But...the only way to get to such a hearing is by requesting an appeal after a disability application has been denied.
And, of course, after that first appeal (known as a reconsideration or review) has been denied, a claimant may request their second appeal, the appeal that actually leads to a hearing in front of a judge.
How long does the appeal process take? Assuming that a claimant does not get approved on their first appeal (the reconsideration or review), and has to appear at a hearing, the appeal process can easily take over 2 years. And, certainly, this sounds impossibly long, both from a medical and financial standpoint.
However, enduring the appeal process is preferable by far to never being approved for disability benefits and I would gather to say that the person who had filed 22 times had probably put several years into the process...with nothing to show for it.
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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