Friday, September 02, 2011

Recent Social Security Rule Hinders Claimants

Just recently effective the Social Security Administration issued SSR 11-1p which affects those appealing a denial after a hearing. The appeal process is an ongoing process and after a hearing you can seek an Appeals Council review and thereafter also can proceed into the federal courts. So you wait for a hearing and if, for some reason, you are denied benefits after a hearing you can pursue further appeals. This takes time but I have seen appeals take several years but finally be successful. But to any claimant this new policy is bad news. For some time if you lost at the hearing and appealed further you often would be told to file another application for benefits with a date after the hearing decision. Then you would have two proceedings going primarily to preserve your right to several months of benefits. The theory is that if you just waited on the appeal and it took 6 months or longer then when you get around to trying all over again you lost those months of waiting. Now the agency has decided not to allow that new application or so it seems on first impression. Imagine having cancer but losing at the hearing on some basis. Then you take a turn for the worst but are told by this policy that any new application has to wait on your appeal or give up your appeal to file a new application. I understand the need not to complicate matters but this policy may result in denials of due process. At least those representing claimants are quite disturbed by it. Here is one view on this and here is another and still another. I would say that this is an area that requires proceeding very carefully. This ruling is new and untested and may well be attacked by those who believe you have a right to file a new application but for now I am just letting you know about it. Time will tell how this is best handled.

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