At first glance, it may seem like it’s easy to recover Social Security disability benefits. However, the truth of the matter is that about two-thirds of all initial claims are denied. And many individuals who have had their claims denied feel defeated and simply move on with their lives as best they can. Don’t let that happen to you.
Instead, you should diligently work to build your initial claim to make it as strong as possible, thereby increasing your chances of falling into that third of cases that are granted benefits. In order to do that, though, you’re going to not only need strong evidence to support your claim, but you’re also going to need an understanding of why so many disability claims are denied. That way, you can anticipate the problems your claim might face and act to avoid those common pitfalls.
Common reasons why disability claims are denied
There are a lot of reasons why disability claims are denied. Let’s look at some of the most common reasons here so that you know what you need to avoid:
- The evidence doesn’t show that the condition is severe enough: In order to recover disability benefits, you typically have to show that your condition is expected to last for at least a year or result in death. If your medical evidence doesn’t demonstrate the severity of your condition, your claim will probably be denied.
- Doctor recommendations weren’t followed: If you’re doctor recommends a certain course of treatment for your medical condition, you need to make sure that you follow it. Otherwise, the Social Security Administration will say that you’ve failed to prove that you’re disabled as defined by the law. There are some exceptions here, but they’re narrowly tailored.
- The condition is related to drug or alcohol abuse: Social Security disability benefits can’t be recovered for a condition that was brought about by drug or alcohol use. In fact, you’ll likely be denied benefits if the substance abuse was deemed a mere contributing factor to your condition.
- You don’t cooperate during the claims process: As you navigate your disability claim, the federal government is probably going to request additional information from you. They may need more medical documentation, or they may request that you submit to a consultative examination with an independent medical provider. If you refuse to comply with their requests, the Social Security Administration will likely be justified in denying your claim.
- Your income is too high: In order to obtain disability benefits, you have to show that you’re unable to engage in substantial gainful activity. This “substantial gainful activity” is defined by income, which is about $1,300 per month. Therefore, if you make over that amount despite your medical condition, you’ll be denied disability benefits.
- Your claim was previously denied: If you seek benefits through a disability claim and are denied, you can’t simply reapply. Doing so will just lead to another denial. Instead, you’ll want to make sure that you’re pursuing an appeal of any claim denial that you may face.
An attorney can help you build your case
Social Security disability benefits can provide you with a true financial lifeline in your time of need. But, as you can see, there are a lot of challenges that you can face as you navigate your claim. If you want to protect your interests as fully as possible, either with your initial claim or an appeal of your claim denial, you might want to think about working closely with an attorney who is experienced in this area of the law.