Current course:  SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) Online Course: Adult Curriculum

Prior or Pending Applications

It is common for individuals to have filed one or more applications for SSI or SSDI before the SOAR worker becomes involved. Sometimes individuals do not know or do not remember if they have recently applied and have an application pending at the initial application level. Or, they may have an application in the SSA appeals process. This article has helpful tips for how to find out whether someone has a pending initial claim or is waiting reconsideration or an appeals hearing before starting a new application.

SSA can provide information to the applicant or their appointed representative about pending applications. The applicant can make the inquiry in-person or over the phone and the representative can make the request using an SSA approved consent form. Once you know whether there is a pending application or not, the applicant will need to decide what course of action to take.

SSA Consent for Release of Information

The SSA-3288: Consent for Release of Information (PDF) is an SSA form used to request specific information about an applicant’s or beneficiary’s records or files.
  • Available for use with any SSA office
  • Can be faxed or hand-delivered to the SSA field office
  • Indicate on the form that you would like “information related to pending SSI/SSDI claims, claim level and file dates; information related to denied claims, claim level, denial dates and reasons for denial; SSI/SSDI allowances and eligibility dates”
  • SSA may charge a fee to release information for non-program purposes so be sure to discuss this with your local SSA office and explain the purpose of your program and the needs of the individuals you are working with

Prior Applications

Many applicants will have filed prior applications. You can access information regarding those prior applications as the SSA-1696 appointed representative or using the above mentioned consent form.
  • It is helpful to know the reasons for denial so that you can address those issues in the new application.
  • It is also helpful to know what records were submitted in prior applications so that you can explore new sources of information and provide additional documentation to fill in any gaps.
  • There are no limitations on how many times someone can apply for SSI or SSDI so do not worry if there are many prior applications and denials.

Pending Applications - Initial and Reconsideration

An claimant may have an application pending at the initial or reconsideration levels.
  • If the application is pending at the initial or reconsideration level, find out if it is still located at the SSA field office or if it has been transferred to DDS for the medical review.
  • If the application is already at DDS and has been assigned a DDS examiner, contact DDS to find out the name and phone number of the examiner.
  • The DDS examiner can tell you how far along they are in the development of the case and whether you can help them obtain any additional information they may need.
  • Sometimes there will be time to submit additional records and even a Medical Summary Report. Other times they will be ready to make a decision and they will not be able to hold the case open. Always ask!

Pending Applications-Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)

An applicant may have an application pending at the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearings level of appeal.
*Effective October 1, 2017, the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) changed its name to the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO). The Appeals Council is now housed within the Office of Appellate Operations under the newly established Office of Analytics, Review and Oversight (OARO).

Making the Decision

You will need to discuss with the applicant what they would like to do if they have a pending application.
  • Proceeding with the pending application may not provide enough time to gather additional medical evidence and write a thorough Medical Summary Report
    • If the prior application is denied, you can always file an appeal
  • Filing a new application rather than pursuing the current application or appeal will mean giving up the current protective filing date which will affect how much back-pay the applicant could potentially receive
  • If you are unsure of what to do, discuss the options with the applicant and a representative at the local SSA office