Your health has been on the decline for a while, and you’re no longer able to keep working. You did the sensible thing and filed for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits right away. After a months-long wait, your claim was denied.
What happened? Well, you’ve just joined a big crowd of people who have found out the hard way that the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks for any possible way it can to deny claims. Application denials have risen sharply over the years: Back in 1999, roughly 56% of disability claims were approved, but that figure fell to less than 29% by 2017.
Your denial letter should specify why your claim was denied, but here are some of the top problems claimants encounter:
- SSA doesn’t believe your condition will last for a year or longer. Unlike workers’ compensation, there are no short term benefits allowed via SSD.
- Your addiction contributes to your disability. If SSA determines that your condition would not likely be disabling if you eliminated the use of drugs or alcohol, you will be denied.
- You didn’t comply with treatment. You generally cannot collect benefits for a disability unless you’ve tried treating the condition. Not following your doctor’s recommendations without a very sound reason can get your claim rejected.
- SSA couldn’t contact you. Sometimes the disability examiner has questions or wants an applicant to see another doctor for a consultative exam. If you were out of reach, your claim will usually be denied.
- There’s missing or conflicting evidence in your file. Sometimes doctors don’t return the medical records SSA needs to make a decision, or their records contain conflicting information that leads to a denial.
Whatever the reason your claim was unfairly denied, you stand a fair shot of getting that decision reversed upon appeal — but only if you take timely action. An attorney can help you resubmit your claim and overcome the denial.