If you applied for Social Security Disability benefits, and were denied coverage, you are in good company. Statistically, far fewer applications are approved than are denied. While this might be frustrating, this is not the end of the road for your disability claim. You have the opportunity to appeal your case, and if you believe you qualify for benefits, you should do so.
Why did my claim get denied?
There are many reasons why your claim might have been denied. Here are some of the more common reasons a claim might not be successful:
- The Social Security Administration (SSA) needed more information
It is fairly common for applications to be incomplete or for more information to be needed in order to evaluate your claim. Because of this, the SSA must be able to reach you or your representative. If they cannot find you, and do not have everything they need, you are likely to find your claim denied.
- You do not have a serious enough condition
In order to collect disability benefits, the disability suffered must be so severe that is will last for a minimum or one year (12 months) or result in the individual’s death. Many applicants are denied because although they have a serious injury or illness, it does not quite meet these very strict requirements.
- You make too much money
The financial limits are very low. If you are able to work some of the time, and earn more than the limit, you will be denied benefits. As of 2017, the monthly limit is $1,170, unless you are blind, in which case it goes up to $1,950. Even if you make less than the limit, your assets might cause your benefits to be denied. If you own something like a boat, or have a savings account with several thousands of dollars in it, you might be denied benefits.
- You have not been following the treatments prescribed for your condition
If you have refused to take a medication that could treat your condition, or otherwise failed to take steps to improve your condition, you might be denied benefits. There are certain exceptions to this, such as for religious reasons or because you could not afford the treatment.
- Your disability is related to alcoholism or drug use
If your disability is caused in part because of an addiction to drugs or to alcoholism, you might find your benefits being denied.
- You have a criminal conviction
If your injury occurred in the course of committing a felony, or you are in prison, or were injured while in prison, you might be denied benefits. There might be certain exceptions to this though.
- You have not been cooperating with the SSA
The SSA requires certain documentation, such as medical records when you are applying for a claim. If you have been unwilling to provide them with all of the documents they are requesting, then you could be denied benefits.
How do I appeal my claim?
Most applications are denied, and thus most applicants must appeal the decision if they wish to receive benefits. The initial appeal can be done online or at a SSA office. Following the first appeal you can request a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
You can hire someone to work as your representative, and to stand in for you in all dealings with the SSA. You can do this even for the initial application. However, most applicants only decide to hire a representative as they get further along in the appeals process. Once your claim is denied, or once your first appeal is denied, you may wish to seek the assistance of a representative, or possibly a disability attorney, to help you with your claim.
The hearing in front of the ALJ involves the need for paperwork, the need for your testimony, and will likely involve a vocational expert, hired by the SSA to give information on whether someone in your condition has the ability to work.
Applicants who are faced with these hearings tend to have better outcomes on average if they have the assistance of an experienced representative who can help them prepare for and navigate the process.
If you are faced with the need to appeal your claim, consider speaking with an attorney to develop a strategy for making the best case that you possibly can, and to increase the chances of being approved for disability benefits.
Contact Stern Law, PLLC for A Free Consultation
At Stern Law, PLLC, we have compassionate and caring attorneys ready to work with you on your disability related legal matters. Contact Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 for a free consultation with an experienced disability attorney.