How to Reopen an Earlier Claim

Art: Robin Mead

Thank you to attorney Sarah Dubinsky, for sharing great ideas and critical information to make this page possible. 

If you applied for Social Security in the past, but then gave up, and now you would like to try again, there is a chance you can get Social Security to continue your original application and combine it with your new application. This is called “reopening a claim”

Why Reopen?

🌷 If you reopen an old case, this can often mean more backpay. Sage reopened his claim and was awarded $200,000 in backpay! Sage’s Story

🌷 If your Date Last Insured has past, or your work credits have expired, reopening an old claim can mean you are still eligible for SSDI in some cases. Learn more about Options if You Don’t Have Enough Work Credits 

🌷 If this is your situation, it might be helpful to also learn more about How to Go Back in Time Before Your Work Credits Expired

🌷 An alternative to requesting reopening is to try continue appealing even though you missed the deadline: What To Do If You Miss a Social Security Deadline

🌷 You can also try both. Request to send in appeal past the deadline, and if that doesn’t work, apply again and request to reopen. We aren’t sure how long it takes to get an answer on that first request though.

How to Reopen

🌷 You can request to reopen an old claim at your local Social Security office, or by contacting the person assigned to handle your case.

🌷 Here is an article on how to reopen a claim.

🌷 Here is the Social Security Policy on Reopening a Claim.

🌷 The rules are slightly different for SSI and SSDI. In this policy above, where you see it say “Title II,” this section refers to SSDI. Where it says “Title XVI,” this refers to SSI. What’s the difference between SSI and SSDI?

🌷 If you have good cause for requesting reopening, that will increase the chances of getting your claim reopened. Here’s the Social Security policy on good cause.

🌷 If you are trying to reopen an old case, it can be very helpful to have a lawyer who is willing to advocate for you. The rules can be complicated and technical. How and Where to Find a Good Disability Lawyer

How Difficult Is It To Reopen? 

🌷 If your case was denied recently, reopening can be an easier request. If years have passed, it becomes more complex.

🌷 If your case was previously denied by a judge, it can only be reopened by another judge (this is rare and unlikely). If it was denied at an earlier stage, you can request for it to be reopened at your local Social Security field office.

🌷 Reports from readers: We’ve heard a wide variety of reports from readers who visited their local field office to request a case be reopened. Sometimes it was very easy and the Social Security worker did it without even being asked. Other times the Social Security employee did not want to do it or did not know how to do it.

🌷 We heard from one reader who went to her local office and was told it was nearly impossible to get a claim reopened. She went back on a different day and met with a different person, and they reopened it for her in just five minutes!

🌷 If you run into problems, you might request to speak to a supervisor who knows more about how to reopen cases.

🌷 More strategies for How to Solve Social Security Problems

If You Went Back To Work

🌷 After your first application was denied, if you went back to work and earned too much money, it may be much more difficult to get your old case reopened. How much is too much? You can look up the figure in this SGA chart.

🌷 If you worked over the limit, it may still be possible if you are able to prove that the work was an unsuccessful work attempt or that you had Employment Supports.

Thanks for Reading

🌸 This page is part of the free online guide: The Sleepy Girl Guide to Social Security Disability 

🌸 Art on this page by Robin Mead and Elizabeth D’Angelo.

🌸 Page Updated: 10/1/19

🌸 To get daily updates on helpful disability services, and low income programs, follow us on Facebook: The Sleepy Girl Guide.

🌸 Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. Please share this page with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons:



1 thought on “How to Reopen an Earlier Claim”

  1. Hi..question.. I was injured on my job my second job in 2002 of November to make it short 19 years later I finally get SSI temporary then they say a month later that or actually two three months later that they were going to switch me to permanent I talked to someone about my back pay because I’ve only received like five checks and they for each month since the Social Security Office of prove my case but what I have is I haven’t received any back pay and will I receive back pay if I had got temporary provisional pay and its wish to permanent permanent SSI claim in the process of all these years of waiting for my disability then I applied for in 2003 of September because I could no longer work for my workers comp injury I went through many appeals many many refiles and it was 19 years I just turned 62 in March and I have applied for SSDI under my own work history which they said they would Grant SSDI I do my own work history and my ex work history so I would get part from mine part from his work history for my SSDI but it doesn’t take effect till April but my main subject and problem is will I be able to get my SSI back pay because Social Security when I spoke to them they said I would get no back pay my benefits started for my SSI temporary in October actually September of 2020 that was my first check


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