For purposes of escalation and consolidation, a common issue is present when two or more claims, in any combination, share any overlapping period
of time, and all have the same medical or substantial gainful activity (SGA) issue.
When a claim for benefits based on disability under title II or title XVI is pending
at the initial, reconsideration, or hearing level of review and a subsequent claim
under the other title is filed, the field office (FO) should establish whether the
claims share a common issue so that the subsequent claim can be considered at the
same level as the prior claim. Both claims will not be considered at the hearing level
if the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) does not agree that there is a common issue
or that the claim should be joined, or if the claimant objects to joining the claims.
In rare situations prior claims are escalated to the hearing level without an initial
determination. If no initial determination exist, SSA counts the time limit for reopening
from the date of the notice of the first decision on the claim.
1. Common Issue At Reconsideration Or Hearing Level
Following are medical and SGA situations in which a common issue is present:
a. Title II Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Title XVI Disability /Blindness Claims
Title II insured status is met in or after the month of filing for title XVI eligibility
or payments, and both claims involve a medical or SGA issue of disability (either
claim pending at the initial or reconsideration level, and the other claim pending
at the reconsideration or hearing level);
b. Title II Disabled Widow/Widower Benefits (DWB) and Title XVI Disability/Blindness
Title II prescribed period requirement is last met in or after the month of filing
for title XVI payments, and both claims involve a medical or SGA issue of disability.
A common issue is present if:
either claim is pending at the initial level and the other claim is pending at the
reconsideration or hearing level;
The DWB claim is pending at the initial or reconsideration level and the title XVI
claim is pending at the hearing level, as the medical issue in the DWB claim is also
an issue in the title XVI claim.
c. Title II Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB) Claim and Title XVI Disability /Blindness
claim and Both Claims Involve A Medical or SGA Issue of Disability.
A common issue is present if either claim is:
Pending at the initial level and the other claim is pending at the reconsideration
Pending at the initial or reconsideration level and the other claim is pending at
the hearing level if the title XVI application was filed by the claimant prior to
d. Title II Disability Claim And Title XVI Disability/Blindness Claim (Continuing Disability)
and Both Claims Involve A Medical or SGA issue.
A common issue is present if:
A disability/blindness claim is pending at the initial or reconsideration level under
one title, and continuing disability is at issue under the other title at the initial
or reconsideration level.
A disability or blindness cessation is pending at the hearing level under one title
and a disability or blindness claim has been denied at the initial or reconsideration
level under the other title.
NOTE: Common issue policy may be applied to CDB/Age-18 redetermination situations.
In considering whether a subsequent application or case may be escalated for consolidation
with a pending case, it is not necessary that the onset dates coincide. Onset dates
may be different, either as alleged by the claimant or determined at the reconsideration
or higher level. It is only necessary that a common period of disability be involved.
See DI 12045.005B. for definition of common issue.