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SSDI and SSI: How many times can I apply for benefits?

A common question we get each day on our disability forum is, “How many times can I apply for SSI or SSDI disability benefits?” This question is a bit frustrating because many claimants simply apply over and over again without fully understanding: 1) what they are trying to prove; 2) what evidence they need to prove they are disabled; 3) whether they meet the basic nonmedical requirements for either SSI or SSDI; and 4) without discussing their case with a disability lawyer.

So should you simply apply over and over again hoping for a different result? The Social Security Administration (SSA) very specific procedures for determining whether or not a claimant is disabled and qualifies for SSDI or SSI. This means that if you simply apply over and over again without getting better medical evidence or redoing your SSDI or SSI application to include more convincing evidence you are disabled it is likely that you will be denied over and over again, even if your claim is evaluated by different SSA representatives.

What should I do instead of applying multiple times?

What should you do instead of applying again and again? My suggestion is first to determine why you were denied. The reason for your SSI or SSDI denial should be clearly listed on your denial letter.

The reason can  be nonmedical or medical. For instance, if you have applied for SSDI and you lack sufficient work credits to qualify, you could apply 1,000 times and continue to be denied until you have accumulated enough credits to qualify. This is a good example of when you SHOULD NOT apply again and again.

If you have applied for SSI and the SSA states your income or resource level is too high this is another example of a nonmedical denial and you will keep getting denied until your resource and income level dips below the allowable amount.

If you do not meet the nonmedical criteria for either SSDI or SSI there is no reason to apply multiple times.

When should I apply for SSDI or SSI again?

Now, let’s say, for example, you applied for SSDI or SSI and the SSA states that you need more medical evidence to prove that you are disabled. This could be a simple issue. Go to the right doctor and explain that you are applying for disability.

Although they may be unwilling to fill out any forms or help you with your application they may be willing to complete an RFC form or request the appropriate tests to document your health condition and your limitations to work. Finding a doctor who is sympathetic to your plight is critical at this point. As mentioned above, sympathetic does not mean they will complete forms for you, it simply means they will not put anything into your medical file (i.e. this claimant can work full-time) that can hurt your SSI or SSDI case.

Should I appeal my SSI or SSDI case?

What is even better than applying over and over again? Depending on the reason you were denied it may be better to appeal the denial decision. This must be done within 60 days for the disability denial letter, but this generally helps claimants get closer to a SSA administrative hearing, which can be a claimant’s best chance to win SSI or SSDI benefits.
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