People suffering from the financial burden of a disability may apply for Social Security Disability benefits if they have a work history that makes them eligible. However, they should be aware of the potential for a denied claim and what they can do about it.
According to the SSA website, the first submission receives a denial more often than not.
Statistics about denials
In 2018, more than 2 million people applied for benefits, and only 20.3% of the initial applications received awards. Of the denials, 23.2% were for medical reasons, and 40.7% were for technical reasons.
Statistics about appeals
Over the past decade, around 2.2% of appeals resulted in reconsideration awards each year. As of the 2019 publication of this data, there were still cases pending as far back as 2012. Reasons for denial include:
- The SSA determines the impairment will not last 12 months
- The SSA does not consider the impairment severe
- The applicant has the ability to perform his or her usual job duties
- The applicant can perform some other type of substantial work
- The applicant does not provide enough medical evidence
- The applicant does not follow the treatment prescribed by medical professionals
If an applicant’s impairment is the result of a drug or alcohol addiction, the disability does not qualify for benefits. Failing to cooperate or deciding to discontinue development of the claim are other common reasons applicants received denials.
The appeals process
The SSA notes that in most cases, applicants may appeal a denial within 60 days of receipt of the denial notification. There are four stages of the appeal process, beginning with reconsideration by a different SSA representative, a hearing in front of an administrative law judge, an Appeals Council review and finally, a civil lawsuit in federal court.
Because of the length of time denials take, gathering all appropriate documentation and adhering carefully to the process is essential to obtaining this form of financial relief.