Why Was I Denied Disability When I Can’t Work?

Denied Disability?

If you have applied for Social Security Disability benefits but have been denied, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in the majority.

Social Security Disability Statistics

For the year 2013 alone, there were over 2.6 million applications for Social Security Disability benefits. It was one of the largest years for Social Security Disability benefit applications — 2010 had the most at over 2.9 million applications.

The unfortunate fact is that most of these applications are denied. In fact, in 2013, only 884,894 applications — or 33.52 percent — were actually approved for benefits. And this figure is only for total denials. Bankrate reports the Social Security Administration denied 65.4 percent of disability claims at the initial level and another 87.3 percent of claims at the reconsideration level.

Why Is Social Security Disability Denied?

Social Security Disability benefits are denied for many different reasons. We think the top reasons include:

  • Lack of medical evidence – In order to prove that you qualify for disability benefits, you’ll need to demonstrate an inability to work due to a disabling condition. This means you must have medical records that show your disability has interfered with your ability to perform normal work activity. You should be able to provide documentation of doctors’ visits, prognosis, medical test results, imaging, and even a letter or specific questionnaire completed by the doctors themselves.
  • Previous denial of Social Security Disability benefits – If you have filed a claim and were denied at all stages, filing a new claim will not generally be beneficial unless you have legitimate new evidence and a valid reason for not submitting it before. For this reason, you shouldn’t ignore a Social Security Disability benefits denial on the initial or reconsideration phase — you should take advantage of the appeals process to continue the pursuit of your claim for disability benefits.
  • Exceeding the substantial gainful activity allowance – If you have applied for Social Security Disability benefits and continue to work part-time, you may be denied. Although the numbers change from year to year, if you’re earning more than $1,000 in income per month at the time of application, your claim will be denied. The Social Security Administration will only approve claims for those who are unable to work due to their disability. Additionally, even if your part-time work provides significantly less income than $1,000 per month, Social Security may view your work attempts as evidence that you maintain the ability to work and earn more than you currently do.
  • Lack of attention to medical treatment requirements – When an individual applies for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, they must continue treatment with their doctors, healthcare facility, or rehab — or they may lose their benefits. Individuals who refuse treatment in the first place, or discontinue it altogether, will generally be denied benefits. It is important to follow treatment recommended by your doctors unless you have a good reason not to (such as inability to afford treatment, or having failed the same treatment previously).
What to Do if You’re Denied Disability but Cannot Work

If you or someone you care about has been denied Social Security Disability benefits in Pennsylvania, contact Ritacco Disability Law for a free consultation to discuss your case.