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Reopening a prior application is sometimes possible in SSDI cases. It is not easy to reopen a prior application. However, if you let an old application lapse and did not appeal it within the proper time frame, you may be able to reopen your old application. There are limits on reopening prior applications. But, it is a great tool for you and your case. Because if you reopen an old application, then it could get you more past due SSD benefits.

Many people file an application for Social Security benefits more than once. Sometimes, people file an application and don’t appeal a denial because they think they are going to return to work.  Likewise, people miss the 60-day time frame to file an appeal. For whatever reason, the SSA tells them they need to file a new application.


If you have filed more than one application, you may be able to reopen your old or first application. This is especially true if you have filed two or three times within a two year period. You have the right to ask for a “reopening” of your prior application.  The law states that a prior application can be reopened for any reason within a 12 month period.

“An ALJ has the authority to reopen an initial, revised or reconsidered determination, or a hearing decision or revised hearing decision under title II or title XVI of the Social Security Act for any reason within 12 months from the date of the notice of the initial determination.”

In order to reopen a prior application, so you can obtain all of you back benefits, you need to ask the ALJ to reopen it at your hearing.  Additionally, you usually need a reason to request reopening.  It could be a simple reason, such as you didn’t file an appeal within 60 days because you were in the hospital. Or, perhaps you did not receive your mail because you moved.  You may have a mental illness that prevents you from understanding your rights. Likewise, you may have been trying to gather all of your medical records before filing your appeal.

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As long as you have a reason, the ALJ must consider a reopening request that is within 12 months of the initial determination date.  The rules do not require an ALJ to automatically reopen a previous decision, even if it is within 12 months. But, the ALJ cannot automatically deny a request to reopen a prior application.  If the ALJ reopens a prior application, then it should result in you getting a larger back benefit amount. In other words, you will receive all of the past due benefits due to you since your first application.

If you have questions about how to reopen an old application, then you should contact our office. The attorneys at our law firm can explain how to reopen your previous application. For instance, we can determine if we can reopen your prior application, even if you have more than one past application. We consider it our job to win benefits on your current application. At the same time, we will attempt to reopen any past applications for your benefit. We have years of hearing experience winning SSD cases.


The following are required before a determination or decision may be reopened:

  1. a. An administratively final decision (may be an initial claim or a CDR decision), and
  2. b. Reason to reopen (e.g., new and material evidence), and
  3. c. A timely written statement by a party to the decision indicating disagreement with the correctness of a final decision, or
  4. d. A timely written statement by an authorized component of SSA or Disability Determinations Services, questioning the correctness of a prior decision.

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There are two forms of benefits for which you can file an application: Social Security Disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits. You can file an application online at the Social Security’s website. Below, you can find an explanation as to each type of benefit you can apply for:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI):  

SSDI benefits are for those who have worked and can no longer work at any job due to a medical condition. The amount of money you will receive from SSDI benefits every month is based on how much Social Security tax you have paid during your work history. To qualify for SSDI, you must have earned enough “work credits” to qualify. A work credit is an amount of taxable income. You can earn up to 4 work credits per year. The amount of work credits you will need will depend on how old you are when you apply. If you haven’t earned enough work credits for your age at the time you apply, you can only file for Supplemental Security Income benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI):  

SSI is a needs based benefit and it is for those people with little to no income, such as children and the elderly. Anyone who makes more than a certain amount of money per month cannot receive SSI benefits. The SSA counts the income of those in your house, not just your income and assets. If you have a spouse who earns more than $4000 a month, then that income will prevent you from getting SSI benefits. You cannot get SSI benefits, no matter how severe your medical condition, if you do not meet the income and asset rules for SSI.



You can request that a judge to reopen an SSDI application. But only if you file a second application within one year of the date of the denial on the first application. You can reopen the first application “for any reason.”

For example, pretend you filed your first application on January 1, 2021 and then you were denied by the SSA on March 1, 2021. Then, after the denial you did not appeal it. Instead, you decide on January 1, 2022, to file a second application. Because your second application is filed within one year of the denial date, March 1, 2021, of the first application, your first application can still be up for a new decision.

When you file your second application, you can request that the SSA reopen your prior application. However, whether or not your applications will pay further back in time is up to the judge at the SSA hearing. If you want to be paid on a prior application, then it is good to hire an attorney to represent you. Your attorney will make sure to try and win all of your past due benefits. There is no law stating that the judge must reopen a prior application.


You have two years to reopen SSI applications. However, you can only reopen an SSI decision within 2 years from the date of notice of the initial decision for “good cause.”

There is good cause to reopen a decision up to two years after the initial decision if:

  • There is new and material evidence;
  • A clerical error has been made; or
  • There is an error on the face of the evidence.

A change of ruling or law does NOT constitute good cause.

If you have prior applications, then you really need an attorney to help you win your case. Arguing that good cause applies is complex. You will need to make that argument to the judge at your hearing. It is best to hire an attorney to make the arguments for you. That way, you can win as much of your past due benefit as possible.


You do not need to try to figure out your benefits by yourself. We can help you file your SSD application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. For example, our attorneys and staff can:

If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. If you don’t send it back, the SSA will not process your application. Sign it and send it back as soon as possible.


We have over 30 years of legal experience. During that time, our SSD Law firm has won over 20,000 cases for our clients. Also, we bring over 30 years of legal experience to your SSD case. For instance, Dianna Cannon has been winning SSD cases for over thirty years. Brett Bunkall and Andria Summers also have many years of legal experience.

It doesn’t cost any money upfront to hire our law firm. If you don’t win your case, then you do not pay an attorney fee. If we do win your case, then you will owe 25% of your back benefit in attorney fees. Additionally, our attorney fee is capped at $7200. We charge whatever is less. Either 25% of the past due fee or a maximum of $7200, whatever is less. That means we can never charge more than $7200 in attorney fees for winning your case at the hearing level or prior to it. Again, if we do not win your case, you will not owe an attorney fee.

We will use our skills to help you through the Social Security appeal process. Our attorneys and staff will help you apply for benefits and appeal SSA denials. It is our goal to win your case. But, it also our goal to make it easier for you. We offer a free review of your case. There is no pressure to become a client if you call. You can simply ask questions. We will answer. You can trust that we will do everything we can to win your benefits. Contact us today for your free case review.

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