If you recently applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for the first time, you know that it can be a daunting task. You’ve probably heard stories from friends, family and others about claims being denied – seemingly for no good reason.
In fact, the Social Security Administration (SSA) does deny (“disapprove”) about two-thirds of initial claims for SSDI. You may be surprised to learn that they deny an even higher percentage of those that are appealed or presented for “reconsideration.” That’s just the first appeals level.
Before you start worrying about having to go through multiple appeals, it’s important to understand why so many claims are denied (at least initially). This can help you avoid some of the pitfalls that may lead to repeated denials.
Issues with your disability or evidence of it
You need to provide conclusive and valid evidence from doctors that your condition has left you unable to work and has lasted or is expected to last at least a year (or result in death). That includes treatment records. You further need to show that you can’t perform “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). That means a person is able to do work that will support them. If they are, they’re considered ineligible for disability benefits.
Not having enough work credits
Like Social Security retirement benefits, SSDI benefits are paid based on a person’s work record and their contributions through their paychecks to Social Security. If you haven’t been in the workplace long or earned enough, you may not have sufficient credits to qualify for SSDI.
Not responding to or calls or requests for information
Sometimes, a claim is denied simply because an SSA employee has tried unsuccessfully to reach someone to ask a question or get more information. You can help avoid that problem by providing a contact person they can reach out to if they can’t get ahold of you. Further, if you commit to sending further necessary documentation, it’s important to do that as soon as possible.
When you’re already dealing with a serious medical condition, having to navigate the seemingly endless bureaucracy of the SSA can be too much. Don’t let an initial denial stop you from receiving the benefits to which you’re entitled. Seeking experienced legal guidance can improve your chances of getting your claim approved.