It is sometimes possible to re-open prior diisability claims as part of a new claim, if a medical condition has been ongoing. Social Security may not do this automatically. This makes a significant different in the amount of back benefit a claimant receives. The medical evidence must support the earlier period. Unrepresented claimants may have earlier claims that were denied simply because they were missing significant medical records, or they simply forgot to file appeals.
Sometimes Social Security will say that it is too late to reinstate old claims. But there are technical legal grounds, for re-opening claims, even when the time limit has passed.
Examining past applications is one ofthe most important things to do inevaluating your client’s case. The old Social Security file should be obtained through a local office. These files are essential to determine the basis of the previous denial, and may take many weeks to obtain. In newer cases, electronic files maintained by Social Security may speed this process.
A change in Social Security regulations allows a person who has filed an appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council to file a new claim at the same time. The Appeals Council is the level of appeal after an administrative law judge denies a case. There is currently delay of nearly two years for a decision, causing untold hardships. If you have a client who has such an appeal pending, please call us and let us advise on filing a new claim.