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Prior or Pending Applications

It is important to find out whether someone has a pending initial claim or is waiting for a reconsideration or an appeals hearing before starting a new application.

Prior or Pending Claims

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 remember if they have recently applied and have an application pending at the initial application or appeals level. 

Applicants can request information from SSA in-person or over the phone about prior or pending applications. The SOAR practitioner can also make the inquiry using the SSA Consent for Release of Information.

SSA Consent for Release of Information

The SSA-3288: Consent for Release of Information 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 and been denied before you come in contact with them.

  • It is helpful to know the reasons for denial so that you can address those issues in a 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

If an applicant has an application currently pending, submit the SSA-1696: Appointment of Representative form. This will allow you to communicate with SSA about the claim moving forward.

Initial and Reconsideration Level

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!

Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Level

An applicant may have an application pending at the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearings level of appeal.

  • If pending at the ALJ level you will need to contact the local Office of Hearings Operations (OHO)
  • You can find your local office on the Social Security Administration (SSA) Hearing Office Locator.
  • If there is additional information/diagnoses that were not known at the time of earlier decisions, request an On the Record Review. Compile the new details and write/update a Medical Summary Report. This review on record enables a decision at the hearings office without waiting for an in-person hearing. If the applicant is denied in this review, they simply wait for a hearing to be scheduled.
  • If the person is scheduled for a hearing and your agency does not provide assistance with ALJ appeals, contact Legal Aid, Legal Services or another pro bono legal service for representation.
  • You can learn more about Appeals in Class 6 of the SOAR Online Course.

If the applicant has an attorney

  • Ask the applicant to sign a release of information so you can talk with the attorney about the case.

  • If the applicant is homeless or has received an eviction notice, inform the attorney of this and ask that they request an expedited hearing. 
  • If there are concerns about the attorney representation, contact your local protection and advocacy agency to discuss these concerns. 
  • If additional information/diagnoses are available, ask the attorney to request a review on record and share with them the new information with permission from the applicant.

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.