My Social Security Disability claim was denied for the second time, what do I do?

I've come across this question enough times to know that, before I can give the individual an answer, I need them to clarify what they meant---because the answer to the question will depend on whether the questioner meant to say:

A. They were denied on their second Social Security Disability application.


B. They were denied on their first appeal, which they filed following a denial of their Social Security Disability (or SSI) application.

The distinction is very important, but, unfortunately, more than a few individuals get confused in this area. In fact, some individuals do, in fact, believe that when they file a brand new disability application that they are filing an appeal.

This is absolutely not the case. A new disability application is simply a new disability application and has nothing to do with a prior application. And, in most cases, it can disadvantage a claimant if they decide to start over with a new application.

Why? Because, by doing so, they give up their right to file an appeal. And appeals are almost always the best route to follow, because by following the appeal system, a claimant can get their case before a judge and, typically, have their best chance of being approved for Social Security Disability or SSI disability.

So, what is the answer, or, rather, what are the answers to the question?

Well, if an individual is denied on a disability application, they should file for the first appeal that is available to them. This is known as a reconsideration in most states. To request this appeal, simply contact your local social security office and request the appeal (so they can send you the proper forms) or, if you have representation, have your lawyer submit your appeal paperwork for you. Or the appeal can be done online, by you or your representative.

If an individual is denied on this appeal (which is usually what most people mean when they state they have have been "denied for the second time"), then the next course of action should be to request a hearing before an administrative law judge.

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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