Social Security Disability Applicants Can Reopen Denied Claims

Many people wait to file for Social Security disability for many reasons. However, it is not uncommon for disability claims to be denied, even for qualified applicants. This is especially true if the applicant has not sought the assistance of an experienced Social Security disability attorney.

Having a claim for needed benefits denied can be extremely disheartening and, in some cases, financially devastating. The good news is that denied applicants can ask to have their claims reopened, even in cases where the denial has become final. A successful reopening may entitle the applicant to back benefits.

How Does Reopening Work?

The time period for petitioning for reopening depends on why the applicant is asking for a review. An applicant can petition to have a claim for Social Security disability (SSD) reopened for any reason within 12 months from the date of the initial notification of denial.

However, that time period is increased to four years if the applicant is requesting reopening for "good cause." Good cause exists in cases where new and material evidence is submitted, a clerical error was committed or the evidence clearly shows that an error was made in the initial determination. A Social Security disability insurance claim can be reopened at any time if the determination or decision was based on fraud or similar misconduct.

An applicant for Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) can petition for reopening for any reason within 12 months of denial or within two years for good cause.

It's important to realize that reopenings are based on fact, and not on law - good cause to reopen a Social Security disability claim is not present when the only claim of error is a change in the legal interpretation of an issue on which the initial determination was based.

If the Social Security Administration approves a reopened claim, the applicant is usually entitled to back benefits from the date of the initial application.

What Should I Do If My Application is Denied?

Reopenings are only one response to a denied application. If your application for Social Security disability benefits was denied, your best bet is to consult with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer who can help you understand all of your options.