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Prior Decisions and Reopening Prior Claims: The Basics

Let’s say you had a Social Security disability hearing and the judge denied you. You received a decision in the mail following the hearing explaining why the judge found you not disabled. This decision has a date on it and that date is very important if you choose to re-file an application. Overall, a prior determination or decision is final and binding on the issue of whether an individual is disabled during the previously adjudicated time period. This essentially means, as a generally rule, an individual who wants to re-file cannot alleged their disability began prior to the decision date. For example, if an individual received a denial decision dated May 1, 2021 then they could not re-file and allege disability prior to May 1, 2021. If they re-filed they would need to at least allege their disability began at least a day after that prior decision. Therefore, they would need to allege their disability began May 2, 2021.

However, reopening a prior disability claim is possible in a few limited circumstances. Reopening would allow an older claim be joined with the new claim. It is important to note that a prior disability claim needs to be related to the new disability claim. A prior claim will not be reopened if it is based on a disability that is unrelated to the new disability claim. Additionally, the onset date of your disability on your new claim must be within the timeframe covered by your prior claim. More importantly, whether a claim can be reopened hinges on how old that claim is. A prior claim that became final after DDS or a judge made a decision can be reopened within 12 months of the date of the decision for any reason. However, after 12 months has passed the claim becomes extremely difficult to open and can be opened in only very limited circumstances. Overall, it is important to talk with an experienced law firm to understand your prior decision’s importance in your case and whether reopening would be in your best interest.

 

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