For as long as I have been in practice, I have advised my clients that if they received an unfavorable hearing decision, they could file an appeal with the Appeals Council and, at the same time, file a new claim for benefits.
As of July 28, 2011, this “double filing” option is no longer available.
SSA has issued a “ruling” called SSR 11-1p which says in part:
Under the new procedures we are adopting in this Ruling, generally you will no longer be allowed to have two claims for the same type of benefits pending at the same time. If you want to file a new disability claim under the same title and of the same type as a disability claim pending at any level of administrative review, you will have to choose between pursuing your administrative review rights on the pending disability claim or declining to pursue further administrative review and filing a new application.
Social Security concluded that this new rule was needed because of the administrative complications of coordinating appeals with new claims.
This prohibition against concurrent claims does not apply if you are seeking a different type of benefit – for example, if you are appealing an SSDI denial, you could file a new claim for SSI benefits.
In my view, the question of whether or not to file a new claim vs. appealing a hearing denial will be most relevant to claimants whose insured status for Title II has not yet run out as of the date of the unfavorable hearing decision. The Appeals Council process can take one to three years and the likelihood of success is not great. On the other hand, a new case is likely to be denied by the Social Security adjudicator and a hearing will be scheduled before the same judge who denied case #1, unless that judge has retired or moved on in the interim.
Jonathan Ginsberg represents Social Security disability claimants in Georgia. In practice for over 29 years, Jonathan publishes a widely known disability blog, a podcast and several disability web sites. In 2004, Jonathan published a "how to" book about Social Security disability called the Disability Answer Guide. Jonathan lives with his wife and 2 children in Atlanta.