No, the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not deny everyone the first time they apply. However, it does initially deny nearly two-thirds of all Social Security disability applications. While this rate seems high, it means the SSA approves approximately one-third of all applications without requiring claimants to put in additional work. There are several reasons the SSA denies applications, many of which are avoidable.
Working with a Social Security disability law firm like Berger and Green reduces the risk of some types of denials and gives you peace of mind that you have a knowledgeable team fighting for your benefits. Call (412) 661-1400 for a free consultation with our disability lawyers.
Why Does Social Security Disability Deny Claims Initially?
It might seem that the SSA has initially denied everyone you know that has applied for disability benefits. However, the 2015 edition of the SSA’s Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program (one of the two disability programs) has the numbers to disprove that myth.
According to the latest report, the SSA received 2,636,563 disability applications in 2014. By the end of the year:
- 441,621 were still pending a final decision
- 934,825 had received denials due to technical details
- 590,143 had received denials due to medical reasons
- 27,537 had received denials due to subsequent nonmedical reasons
- 640,347 received benefit awards
- 2,090 received subsequent denials
The 2014 year resulted in a 29.2 percent benefit approval rate, leaving the remaining two-thirds of applicants to either appeal their decision or give up on their claim.
If the SSA denied your benefits claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), giving up might seem like the easy route. However, the reasons for denial can be as simple as a written error on your initial application, so it is worth the time to work with a lawyer on your claim.
For a free legal consultation, call 412-661-1400
What Reasons Does the SSA Use to Deny Disability Claims?
As shown in the data above, there are four main types of claim denials.
The SSA denied the application due to reasons not related to the impairment before assessing a disability rating. The most common reason for a technical denial is the applicant does not have the required amount of recent work credits. To qualify, you must have sufficient work credits on your record. The number of credits depends on your age.
An applicant can also receive a denial if they make too much to qualify for Supplemental Security Income.
Nonmedical reasons are similar to technical reasons. An applicant might receive a denial for making too much money or for not being a citizen or resident alien.
The SSA denied the application due to medical reasons. This denial can come because the application was not for a condition that the SSA considers severely disabling. The SSA can also deny an application because it did not include enough medical evidence to support the severity of the disabling condition.
The SSA denied the application for nonmedical reasons after finding the applicant met the severity criteria for his/her claimed disability. Even though you meet the qualifications for a severe disability, you might surpass the threshold for monthly income allowance.
Another reason could be that the SSA does not believe your condition will last 12 months or longer or result in death.
How Can I Avoid a Denial of My Social Security Disability Claim?
Working with a disability lawyer will reduce your risk of a denial due to clerical errors and insufficient evidence. While a lawyer cannot guarantee you a benefit award, they can help improve your claim in the following ways.
Verification of Eligibility
The SSA denies many applications due to a lack of work credits. Your lawyer from our team will investigate your work history and assist you in identifying any applicable errors in work credits.
If you do not meet the eligibility requirements for the SSDI program, the SSA’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program might be a better fit for you. SSI is for blind, older, and disabled individuals with low incomes. This program is based on need—not work credits. Our attorneys can explore all avenues of compensation on your behalf.
Gathering Medical Records
The SSA requires significant evidence to meet its definition of disabled and prove your condition will last 12 months or longer or result in death. Your lawyer knows what evidence you need and how to get it.
What Can I do if the SSA Denied My Application?
A denial is not the end of your opportunity to obtain disability benefits.
You have the right to appeal and submit new evidence to support your initial application. Few cases will require a hearing with the Appeals Council. If this is necessary, we will develop your case as necessary to file these levels of appeal.
If the SSA denies your case upon appeal, we can request a reconsideration of your case. In this step, a new caseworker, uninvolved in your disability claim prior, will review your case.
If the new caseworker denies your claim, all is not lost. We can still request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This can be done over the phone, in person, or on a video conference.
When a claimant gets denied at every step of the SSA process, their last resort is to file a case in federal court to seek damages. Our disability attorneys can prepare your case for this step.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now
Worry Less About a Denial with a Social Security Lawyer on Your Side
At Berger and Green, our goal is to help severely disabled workers in Pittsburgh obtain the benefits they deserve without the hassle of appeals. Disability claims can take months for an initial decision; we are with you every step of the way, keeping you informed of your claim’s progress and submitting all the necessary documentation.
For peace of mind in your initial application or help with an appeal of a denied decision, call (412) 661-1400 for a free consultation.