Why was I denied Social Security Disability?

It can be very difficult to be approved for Social Security Disability benefits.  These are some common reasons for denial:

  • Lack of a firm diagnosis: Sometimes claimants complain of symptoms but file applications for disability before receiving a firm diagnosis.  Social Security cannot assess a person’s symptoms without an actual diagnosis of what is causing the symptoms.
  • Lack of objective medical evidence: This includes MRI’s, x-rays, EMG testing, CT scans, ultrasounds, etc.
  • Lack of medical treatment: Social Security uses a claimant’s medical records as a primary source of evidence to determine the severity of a person’s condition. If a claimant is not treating their conditions on a consistent basis, this creates great difficulty in the ability to establish their limitations in working.
  • Drug or Alcohol Abuse: Chemical dependency can greatly complicate a claim. In some cases, it may be difficult, if not impossible, for Social Security to assess whether a person’s conditions are caused by, or worsened by, continued drug or alcohol use.
  • Non-compliance with treatment plans: It is best to comply with the treatment plan set out by a medical provider to try to improve physical or mental health symptoms. Examples include physical therapy, psychotherapy, mental health case management, injections, pain management programs, etc.
  • Missing deadlines: Most forms requested by Social Security, Disability Determination Services, and the Office of Hearings Operations will have a deadline. Missing deadlines can result in a denial of benefits.  Disability Specialists assists our clients in completing forms and returning paperwork in a timely manner.
  • Earning too much: Claimants may work while their claims for Social Security Disability benefits are pending. In 2018 a person may still apply for disability benefits if they are grossing less than $1180 per month.  There can be exceptions to this rule, especially if a person is receiving accommodations from their employer or they need to spend money to be able to work.  If you have questions about how work affects your eligibility, it is best to discuss this with your representative.
  • Not financially eligible: There are many different programs under the Social Security Act for disability benefits.  One of the programs is called Retirement and Survivors Disability Insurance (also known as Title II, RSDI, or SSDI).  You must work and pay into Social Security and earn enough work credits for insured status to be eligible for this benefit.  Another program is Supplemental Security Income (SSI, Title XVI).  This program is based on financial need, and applicants must meet certain household financial criteria to be eligible for this benefit.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not a person is disabled is up to Social Security.  The best things a person can do to improve their chances of obtaining benefits is to treat consistently for their conditions, follow their treatment plans, maintain sobriety, and complete paperwork in a timely manner.

Representative Amy Pearson
Representative Amy Pearson