And so you find yourself in the position of having pursued your Social Security disability claim for years. You’ve applied and been denied repeatedly, and finally in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Now you face the prospect of having to start the process all over again. The question now arises as to whether you will lose your rights to any benefits for the time period leading up to that ALJ denial. You are now faced with the possibility that even if you were to be successful on a new application, benefits may not be payable the time period that has already been decided by the ALJ.
The Res Judicata doctrine (with the words Res Judicata meaning the thing having been decided) raises its head in any situation where an ALJ has issued an unfavorable decision in your case and where that decision is not facing the possibility of further appeal. Thus, the issue arises where no further appeal has been taken and is pending before the Appeals Council, or if the decision was upheld at the Appeals Council level and either no further appeal has been undertaken or was denied at the Federal District Court level (and then no further appeal was timely taken at that point) Failing to pursue the matter further, within the time period prescribed for appeal following a denial, will cause the ALJ unfavorable decision to be come final. Continue reading