If you have applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) and have been denied, you may wonder what you should do next.

As a general rule, you have two options: 1) appeal, which means asking the Social Security Administration to look at your case again; or 2) refile, which means starting application process over again from the beginning.

Given the complexity involved in this type of situation, it is always best to consult with an experienced disability representative before you decide what you should do in the case of a denial.

Deciding what you should do next may be a very complicated decision that highly depends on the facts and circumstances of your particular case; but generally, here are few things to consider:

The Timing of the Denial May Guide You

If your application is denied at the Initial Application stage or Reconsideration stage, it almost always makes more sense to appeal those decisions and request a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) rather than to refile a new application. Filing a new application (refiling) at this stage could very well be a waste of time since a new application will probably be denied for the same reasons as your prior application.

On the other hand, if you appeal and request a hearing, your representative will continue to gather evidence that supports your case. Your representative will also have a chance to make legal arguments and address what things were missed at your previous denials.  Finally, at hearing, you will have a chance to meet with an ALJ and tell them in person why you should be awarded disability benefits.

If you are denied at hearing, you have an opportunity to appeal the ALJ’s decision to the Appeals Council. While most claimants denied at hearing immediately want to appeal, this might not be your best option. First, the appeals process can take a very long time, as much as 18 months, and even if your appeal is granted, you may still have to wait several more months for another hearing to be scheduled. The Appeals Council also denies most of the cases that it reviews, granting less than 20 percent of the cases that are appealed.

You Can Only Do One At A Time

Another consideration is that while you are waiting on your appeal, you cannot refile a new application at the same time. This means you have to wait for the Appeals Council decision before you can file a new application. While you can always submit new evidence to the Appeals Council that the ALJ did not consider, the Appeals Council will only consider evidence that relates to the period before the ALJ made his or her decision. This means that in many cases, it makes more sense to simply refile a new application, continue to get more treatment, and gather new evidence to build a stronger case for your second application.

So some factors to consider when deciding whether or not to appeal at this stage are: how have your conditions changed since you first applied; is there new evidence of your conditions that does not relate to the period before the ALJ’s decision; do you have new conditions that the ALJ did not consider in his or her decision; or have your circumstances changed such that you will be able to start getting more treatment in the near future.

The “Date Last Insured” Matters As Well

Finally, you will need to consider your “Date Last Insured,” which is based on the date you stopped working, and determines how long into the future you are eligible for SSDI benefits. If your Date Last Insured has already passed, you would always want to look closely at appealing your SSDI claim since you will not be able to refile for SSDI benefits. Consult with a certified disability representative to better understanding the different possibilities and the specific facts and circumstances of your case before deciding whether or not you should appeal or refile at this stage of the process.

About Citizens Disability, LLC:

Since 2010, Citizens Disability has been America’s premier Social Security Disability institution. Our mission is to give a voice to the millions of Americans who are disabled and unable to work, helping them receive the Social Security Disability benefits to which they may be entitled. Learn more about us and disability benefits SSDI & SSI or give us a call (800)492-3260.