Why Was My Social Security Disability Claim Rejected?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 57 million people – or 1 in 5 – have some type of disability. More than half of those conditions are categorized as “severe.”denied

In some cases, when disability onset occurs after years of working, disability insurance coverage can help a person to keep their heads above water until they can return to work. However, those suffering from a more severe condition that will result in a year or more off work are going to need more help than that. This is where Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can help. These benefits can provide long-term financial relief for those coping with severe, ongoing disabilities. However, they must first qualify.

Although the number of SSDI applicants has more than doubled in the last 20 years, approximately two-thirds of applicants are denied. Whereas about half of applicants were approved in 1999, only about one-third were in 2014. This does not mean you should not bother applying. What it does mean is you’ve got to be prepared to make the best case possible before the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This is why having an SSDI attorney can be so valuable. It also means you need to understand the common reasons people’s SSDI claims are denied. This can help you avoid some common errors. 

  1. Lack of enough working credits to qualify for SSDI benefits. You need to have worked a minimum amount of time in order to qualify for SSDI benefits. The agency will calculate your credits based on your age and how long you’ve worked, and therefore how long you’ve paid into the system. Usually if you’re 27 or younger, you will need to have at least 1.5 years of work to qualify. The older you are on the more you have worked in recent years, the better your chances of being approved.
  2. You make too much money. If you are already receiving workers’ compensation benefits or drawing some type of income from a trust or investments, you may not qualify to receive Boston SSDI benefits if your income is more than $1,130 month in 2016 (or $1,820 a month if you are blind).
  3. You don’t have a condition that is considered a “disability” by the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) guidelines. Often, people don’t understand that this determination is a legal one, not a medical one. The decision isn’t just made by your doctor. Your condition needs to be severe enough that it renders you unable to work for at least a year or is expected to result in your death. It helps if your condition is on the SSA’s list of impairments. If it’s not, you will need to provide more details for the agency to evaluate your claim.
  4. The ALJ rules you can still do a different kind of job. Even if you can no longer do the job you had, if you can do some type of related work, you won’t be deemed disabled.
  5. You lacked the proper documentation. The ALJ is going to want as much of a paper trail on your condition as possible. That means a listing of all your prior jobs, pay stubs, settlement agreements, award letters, workers’ compensation records, detailed records on your injury or illness, dates of all relevant treatment, results of all your medical tests, details on your prescriptions and the doctors doling them out. You need to be ready with all of this information – and more.
  6. You didn’t provide explanations that were accurate and complete. You need to be honest, thorough and organized.
  7. A technical error. The SSA employs actual people to review your case, and it is possible that an error could be made. Make sure all your information is accurate and have your attorney carefully review the final decision to ensure accuracy.

Understand that if your application is denied, you do have the option to appeal. Your attorney can inform you of all your rights and options.

If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:

Working While Disabled – How We Can Help, 2016, Social Security Administration

More Blog Entries:

Stacy v. Colvin: SSDI Appeals, June 25, 2016, Boston SSDI Lawyer Blog

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