Anyone who has gone through the process of applying for disability benefits knows that it is not quick or easy.
In addition to multiple denials in the course of an application, it’s not unusual for many claimants to have at least one prior application denied before pursuing their ongoing claim.
In some instances, these prior applications can be reopened and attached to the current claim to increase the back pay amount of disability benefits.
To reopen an earlier disability claim, it must related to the current claim. This means that if you are now pursuing a claim for a back injury, your initial claim must have been for a back injury as well. You can’t connect disability claims if one is for a back injury and the second is for a heart condition.
The onset of your disability for the second application must also be within the time frame of your first application.
For example, if your first application was pending between January 2014 and December 2016, you would have state in your second application that you became disabled at some point during that two year period.
Finally, the first application will only be reopened if it was decided incorrectly the first time around.
An earlier application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits can be reopened within 12 months of the date of a final decision for any reason.
Claims between two and four years old are harder to re-open and require showing that new and material evidence was not considered in the first application, or an obvious error on the face resulted in the incorrect decision.
Claims older than four years old are very rarely reopened, and then usually only if fraud was involved.
There is no specific procedure for reopening an older disability claim. Doing so can be as simple as making an oral request to an administrative law judge at a disability hearing.
However, given the requirements that must be met to reopen a prior claim, it’s advisable to have a Social Security disability attorney assist with the process.