How Many Times Can You Apply for Disability? (And When Should You Apply Again?)
July 14, 2022 · 3 min read
If you applied for social security disability and the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied you, you may wonder if applying again is worthwhile. Or, maybe you applied in the past, went back to work, and now you want to apply again.
But, how many times can you apply for disability?
The short answer is — as many times as you want. Though, we venture to say that most people don’t want to keep applying for disability (only to get denied over and over).
The application process is long and complicated, but you don’t need to apply with a new application each time. In fact, you really shouldn’t.
Once you receive your first denial, you can start the appeal process. 50% of appeals go to a hearing where a judge will decide on your case. We know that this might sound intimidating and confusing.
Does everyone get denied disability the first time?
While some people will receive disability benefits after their first application, these cases are rare.
Only 20.3% of people will receive disability benefits on their first application.
The SSA grants disability to people with some severe health conditions almost immediately. The remaining 80% must file an appeal within 60 days of the SSA denying their claim.
Does it hurt your chances to apply for disability multiple times?
Applying for disability multiple times doesn’t hurt your chances of winning—but it doesn’t improve them either.
Continually applying for disability without changing anything on your application—or seeking the medical care you need to support your case—will not change the SSA’s decision.
You’re much better off appealing your case within the 60-day window after receiving the first rejection letter. If your case goes to a hearing and a judge decides to grant you benefits, you’ll receive back pay (payment for the time you were disabled, but not receiving benefits) beginning from the day you first submitted your application.
Let’s say you apply for disability but don’t appeal because you go back to work in some capacity. But, you start to experience pain or illness again and need to apply for benefits. In this case, you would reapply.
Is there a limit on how many times you can get denied for disability?
There’s no limit on how many times the SSA can deny you disability. You can continue submitting your application with the same or new information.
No clause says that after a certain number of denials, the SSA prohibits you from applying for disability in the future.
The problem is that without new or relevant information, they’ll just continue to deny you.
How does a hearing change the re-application process?
If the SSA denies your appeal, your case will go to a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. At this point, if you don’t already have a disability lawyer, you should get one to represent you at your hearing.
You can reapply for benefits if the judge denies your case at the hearing, but you will need compelling information to change the decision.
Perhaps you have debilitating back pain that has gotten worse, but a judge denies your claim. You can reapply and seek additional medical counsel to evaluate you and provide proof and documentation to support your claim, like additional imaging or testing.
Should I reapply even if I don’t have new medical information to show?
If a judge denies your case and you feel that you’ve provided all of the evidence and documentation to support your disability claim, you can take it to a federal court to review.
Keep in mind that taking your case to a federal court can take years. After years of applying and appealing, you may be fighting for disability benefits for four to five years.
What are the reasons to reapply?
There are certain cases where you’d want to reapply for disability rather than appeal a rejected claim:
You’ve missed the 60-day reconsideration/appeal deadline from the date of receiving your rejection letter.
A judge rejects your case at a hearing, and you have additional medical information to submit to prove your situation has gotten worse.
You had disability benefits, but they lapsed and you need benefits again. For example, you went back to work in some capacity or stopped receiving medical care.
You were in prison and stopped receiving benefits, but you are released and need benefits again.
Can you reapply if you miss a window for appeal?
Yes, you can reapply if you miss the 60-day appeal window. However, this resets the clock on when you will receive back pay benefits. This is why acting quickly is so important.
A decision on your initial application can take three to six months. If you appeal and your case goes to a hearing, it might be one to two years before you actually see a judge.
The best thing you can do to get the money you need faster is to start the appeal process immediately when you receive your rejection letter.
Choose a trusted partner to handle your disability case
For free advice with your appeal or re-application, reach out to Atticus. We can walk you through the disability application process and match you with a vetted legal professional (if you need one).
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Jackie Jakab is Atticus’s Legal Director. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, and has counseled thousands of people seeking disability benefits.
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