Sunday, August 10, 2008

My Disability Claim was Denied, Should I Reapply?

If your initial disability claim has been denied you should not, in most cases, reapply---you should appeal your disability denial. Your initial disability claim is just the beginning of the Social Security disability process and if you reapply, versus appealing, you will simply go back to the beginning of the disability claim evaluation process.

If your disability claim has been denied, you have sixty- five days to appeal that decision and you do this by filing a reconsideration appeal.

Now, you are thinking what is reconsideration? The reconsideration, or request for reconsideration, is the first level of appeal in the Social Security disability process, and it’s true value is not that you get a second chance to win disability benefits. The true value of a reconsideration is that it is the next step towards an administrative law judge hearing (which you obtain by filing a request for hearing before an administrative law judge).

Why do I say this? Reconsideration appeals are sent back to the same state disability agency that made the initial disability decision; the only difference being that your disability claim will be reviewed by a different disability examiner, consequently unless the initial disability decision was erroneous according to the rules and regulations of the Social Security disability program, your disability claim will once again be denied (only about 15 out of every 100 reconsiderations are approved).

At this point, the best advice is to keep appealing your disability claim. If your reconsideration appeal is denied at the recon level, you should file a request for hearing. Yes, this is the hearing before an administrative law judge that I mentioned earlier.

Why is an individual more likely to be allowed at this level of the disability process than any other? The administrative law judge is still bound by the guidelines of the Social Security disability program, however an administrative law judge, or ALJ, has much more flexibility in making his medical determination than the state agency disability examiner, hence more disability claimants are approved at this level than any other (not only that, the hearing is different in that you actually meet the adjudicator, may present additional evidence, and may use an advocate to argue on your behalf).

Should you EVER reapply if you receive a disability claim denial? You should reapply only after your administrative law judge hearing is denied, I.E. only reapply if you get denied by a judge at a hearing.

As with all other Social Security disability claim decisions, you are allowed to appeal an administrative law judge decision. Following a denial by a judge, you appeal by filing an appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council. Generally, the Appeals Council will refuse to hear these appeals or deny them. Therefore, while you are waiting for an Appeal’s Council decision, you should file a new initial claim as well. This is the only time reapplying is an advantage to you; because this is the only time you can file a new disability claim while awaiting an appeal decision.

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