If you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance and are denied, you can reapply entirely. There is no limit to how many times you can apply for SSDI or how long must wait between filings.
However, if you reapply entirely for SSDI it could affect how much you receive if you are awarded benefits. This is because reapplying for SSDI changes your disability onset date.
What is your disability onset date?
Your disability onset date is the date the Social Security Administration deems you became disabled and could no longer work. Thus, it is the starting point for the award of benefits.
Your disability onset date is generally assumed to start on date you filed for benefits. However, if the SSA determines there is sufficient evidence to show you were disabled earlier, this could push back your disability onset date.
Note the SSA could also move your disability onset date forward if it believes you were not disabled until after you applied for benefits, even if this date is weeks or months after you stopped working or after the date your doctor said you had a disabling medical condition.
Why is your disability onset date important?
Your disability date determines when you will be eligible for benefits. If your disability onset date is earlier than your filing date, you could get retroactive benefits going back to that date. However, you cannot get retroactive benefits going back any further than 12 months from your disability onset date.
Note, too, that since there is a five-month period following your disability onset date for which the SSA will not pay benefits, this essentially means you need to demonstrate you were disabled 17 months prior to applying for SSDI in order to receive the full 12 months of retroactive benefits.
Reapplying for SSDI and your disability onset date
If you reapply for SSDI based on the same disability as your initial application, it will affect your disability onset date. Generally, your disability onset date on a subsequent application will be no earlier than the denial date of the first application. This is because the SSA already determined that you were not disabled up until the denial date of the first application, even if you disagree.
For this reason, you might choose to appeal a denial of SSDI rather than reapplying for benefits. An appeal preserves your original disability onset date until you are approved for benefits based on that initial application.