Denied? ...Maybe Not.

Don't let a denial stand in the way of your benefits.
Denied Social Security disability application

Denied? …Maybe Not.

The Social Security Administration’s purpose is to protect against the loss of wages due to retirement, death, or disability. However, it can be difficult to navigate the process of being approved for benefits. We can tell you everything you need to know about how to apply, the reason for denial, the qualifications for disability benefits, and how you can appeal your denial.

How do I apply for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA)?

There are a variety of ways to initially apply for disability benefits. We recommend that you apply for these benefits yourself before hiring a representative. You can apply for benefits in the following ways:

While not all initial applications are approved for benefits, we recommend that you go through this initial application process before seeking a representative. If you receive a denial from the Social Security Administration, you should seek assistance for your appeal.

Why was my initial application for disability benefits denied?

The Social Security Administration uses the initial application for benefits as a vetting process. According to The Social Security Administration, the denial rate for initial applications in 2017 was nearly 75%, yet 9.9 million Americans received Social Security disability benefits in 2018. It doesn’t mean you can’t be approved for benefits, but rather your denial may be based on factors other than your physical and mental condition. You may have been denied for benefits due to:

  • Lack of medical evidence
    • Social Security needs medical records to prove your disability. When applying for disability, you may not have sufficient medical evidence to prove your disability, such as a lack of treatment or evaluations at medical facilities. While The Social Security Administration performs medical examinations, it may not be enough to prove your disability. A Social Security disability claim is most successful when the claimant’s medical records are provided to the SSA for review. However, doctors and hospitals often charge a fee for medical records that claimants can’t afford.
  • Prior denials
    • Sometimes when applicants are denied, they choose to file a new claim instead of appealing their prior one. This may cause the person reviewing your claim to deny it. It is important to go through the appeals process if the initial claim is denied.
  • Income
    • If you are working and earning $1,260.00 a month or over, the SSA will deny your disability claim.
  • Failure to follow treatment
    • If you fail to follow the treatment prescribed to you by your doctor or hospital, the SSA will deny your claim. When you don’t follow treatment, the examiner at the SSA will not be able to determine how your disability affects your ability to work. 
  • Failure to cooperate
    • If you fail to provide the needed documentation to the SSA on time or to appear at scheduled appointments, your claim will be denied

How do I know if I even qualify for Social Security disability benefits?

The Social Security Administration has several requirements and qualifications applicants must meet for approval for disability benefits. Here are some to help you determine if you may qualify or not:

  • Must not currently be working and earning over $1,260.00 a month
  • Must have worked in jobs covered by the Social Security Administration. According to the American Association of Retired Persons, 90% of U.S. workers are covered by the SSA. Jobs not covered by the SSA may include:
    • “State, county, and municipal employees who are covered by state-funded pension plans”
    • “Employees of the U.S. government who were hired before 1984”
    • Railroad employees
    • “Foreign nationals who work in the United States for their home government or for some international organizations.”
  • Must have work credits
    • If you’ve never heard of work credits, don’t worry. Work credits are earned throughout your work history. When workers earn wages and pay FICA taxes, they receive work credits. Workers can receive up to 4 work credits per year. The amount of work credits you earn depends on your employment activity and the amount earned per year. For example, in 2020, $1,410.00 in wages earned equals 1 work credit. 
    • Generally, workers 62 or older need 40 credits to qualify for disability. 20 of those work credits must have been earned in the last ten years ending with the year you became disabled. However, younger workers qualify for fewer credits. If you become disabled:
      • Before age 24, you need 6 credits earned in a 3 year period ending when your disability started.
      • At age 24 to 31, you need credit for “working half the time between age 21 and the time you became disabled.” If you become disabled at 27, you would need 3 years worth of work (12 credits) out of the past 6 years.
      • At age 31 or older, you must have 20 work credits or over. To find the specific amount of work credits needed, visit the Social Security Administration’s webpage on the subject. 
  • Must have a medical condition that meets the SSA’s definition of disability.
    • You must meet all of the following qualifications to be considered disabled by the SSA:
      • You cannot do the work you did before.
      • You cannot adjust to other work because of your medical conditions.
      • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
    • The SSA requires that your disability significantly limit your ability to do basic work such as lifting, standing, walking, or remembering for at least one year. No disability benefits are payable for partial or short-term disability. Certain impairments automatically qualify for disability benefits. 

If you feel you met all these requirements, yet the SSA still denied your claim for disability benefits, we can help.

How does Abbott Law Office help appeal your denial for disability benefits?

Abbott Law Office can help you appeal your denial in the following ways:

  • We can request your medical records at no charge to you. Medical records will provide a stronger case to the SSA and a higher chance of approval.
  • We can assist you in providing all the necessary documentation to the SSA.
  • We can represented you at your hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. Claims that are appealed at the hearing-level have an average success rate of 62%.

Appealing your denial for Social Security disability benefits can seem like a long and difficult process, but there is hope.  No one wants to do it by themselves, and no one wants to go in front of a judge without great legal representation.  Abbott Law Office has been helping the disabled get the benefits they deserve for over twenty years!  Let us put our experience to work for you.  Contact us NOW to see how we can help!  Remember, like we always say: you can’t get if you don’t ask.  There is HOPE!

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