Try as we may, it’s unavoidable that administrative law judges deny some very strong disability claims.
When that happens, clients inevitably ask me what to do next. Should we appeal, or they should they refile?
This is one of those situations where there is rarely an easy answer, and which way to go depends a lot on the facts of the case. And unfortunately, Social Security requires that either you appeal or re-file. You can’t do both.
The biggest benefit of appealing is that if it’s successful, it can mean getting a lot of backpay. But it’s not quick or easy process. It can take more than a year to get a decision from the Appeals Council, the body that reviews administrative law judge decisions, and even then they award or remand a very low number of the cases that come before them.
Refiling can mean getting a decision more quickly, but in many situations it also means forfeiting backpay. There is the benefit that if your case goes to hearing, you will likely go before a different judge, which can help your chances quite a bit.
Refiling is especially a good idea if your condition has declined since the hearing, or if you’ve attained a higher age category over the ages of 50 or 55, as new, more beneficial rules come into play at that point.
However, in some Social Security Disability Insurance cases, claimants run up against the date last insured- the date that they are eligible for benefits based on their work history. And if they aren’t eligible for Supplemental Security Income as well, then an appeal is really their only chance for getting benefits.
Again, deciding whether to appeal an unfavorable decision is not an easy choice, so it’s important to discuss how to proceed with an experience disability attorney to make the decision that’s best for you.