It's New Year's Eve, you've just opened your mail, and lo and behold, you received a denial on the application you submitted for disability benefits to the Social Security Administration.
Those bastards! -You've worked since you were 18 years-old and you've paid into the system. Not to mention, you know lots of people on disability already and there's not a damn thing wrong with them.
Maybe so, maybe no.
But, do you know why your case was denied? Do you know if you actually have a chance to be approved if you file an appeal or go before a judge to have him or her review your case? If you don't know the answer to either one of these questions, perhaps this list will help.
1. Your case was denied because there was not enough medical evidence to prove your allegations.
I list this as number 1, because this is the single most often reason why a case is denied. Did you notice that I did not state medical "records," I stated medical "evidence." Filing for Social Security disability is a legal proceeding of sorts. You swear not to commit perjury, so it has to be legal in a sense. And what does every good legal case have in common, good evidence to back up one side against the other. So in other words, you must have good medical evidence in which to prove your allegations. I have written extensively about how to acquire good medical evidence, if you need help call my office.
2. You're too young.
That's right. You're 22 years-old and attempting to file for disability. There is a presumption that you can still do some kind of work in the national economy. At any age under 50, there has to be a showing that you are unable to perform ANY work in the national economy. That means, SSA is quite good at finding some sort of unskilled sedentary work you are capable of performing.
3. You're over the age of 50, but you have worked at skilled jobs in the past.
Oftentimes, this is the death nail for cases of claimants over the age of 50. If a person has worked past skilled-work, this usually means they are able to transfer those learned skills to some other type of work. If you've been in management especially, these sort of skills are universal and transfer easily. So, if you're over the age of 50, and you know you have good medical evidence and you are still being denied, this may be the reason.
4. You are alleging a mental impairment such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD.
Been there, done that. You and everyone else are filing under this and expecting to receive benefits. By and far, these three mental impairments will at least make you go before a judge before being approved. SSA sees these three impairments so often, that the Administration is very leery to award benefits. If this is what you are alleging, you may want to attempt to find work that will accommodate your limitations. By the way, bipolar is another one of these impairments. Not to sound rude, but your bipolar may just mean you're an asshole and you're unable to get along with others. This does not translate to being able to receive benefits.
Joking aside, I have had many clients who have claimed severe anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Many times they have been approved. But, their condition was so severe that these impairments interfered with every aspect of their daily lives. If you do have one or more of these impairments and you can't work, then you do need to file for disability benefits.
5. Last but not least, you haven't worked enough in the past.
There are two areas where this will impact a disability case. First, is right off the bat, you get denied because you do not have enough work credits. This will force you to file for SSI, and many claimants have too high of a family income (their spouse works) to qualify for any disability program. This happens a lot to housewives that have not worked for a long period of time. Their husbands have been the breadwinners and continue to work and earn a good income. This means, they do not have enough work credits and their family income is too high. Therefore, they do no qualify for any disability program.
But, there is also another reason why people who have not worked much in their past get denied easily. This is especially true for men. If men have long periods of time in their past where they have not worked, there is an unwritten bias against granting them benefits. To the Administration, it looks like they are attempting to take advantage of the disability system. If this is you, there must be really good medical evidence to back up your allegations. In all reality, there usually needs to be a well-documented physical condition which equates to a complete inability to work at all.
6. Bonus reason: The Social Security disability system is not fair.
SSA would deny this to the end of days, but it's true.
I'll give you a good example. I had a client that tried multiple times in Texas to get disability. In fact, I was able to even get the judge's decision overturned, only to be denied again. He moved to Louisiana and I applied for him again, and he was approved on the first application. His medical evidence did not change one bit.
So, why is this? SSA can claim that every person follows the same set of rules, but that's only half the story. Each case is decided by an individual. Every individual has his or her own preferences and beliefs and prejudices. That's how we're all wired. You can take the exact same case, and one person (a reviewing doctor) will approve the case, and the other will deny it. I have even had cases that went before a judge, the judge denied the case, the case was refiled, and the same SSA office approved the new case, looked back at the judge's decision, and overturned the judge's decision. And, that same SSA office denied the case the first two times which caused us to go before the judge in the first place. -You can't make this stuff up.
We hope this helps. The Social Security disability system is not perfect, but I do know this -the people working there from the woman helping someone at the counter to the judge deciding the case, all want the best for you. But sometimes, they feel saying no is what is most beneficial. These are hard decisions to make, and I'm glad I only have to represent the people before these decision makers and not the one making the decisions.
If you've been denied or you need to file for Social Security disability, we're happy to help. Please call our office at: (888) 780-9125.