disability benefits

Why Do People Get Denied Social Security Disability Benefits?

Most people who apply for Social Security disability benefits get denied on the initial application. If you understand why people get denied Social Security disability benefits, you might be able to avoid making a mistake that could force you to go through an appeal process to get the benefits you deserve. A Michigan Social Security disability lawyer can help you prepare your initial application or handle your appeal.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) says that these are some of the reasons they deny applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits:

Duration of the Impairment

The medical experts do not expect the impairment to last for at least 12 months. Social Security disability benefits are available only for long-term medical disorders. If the applicant’s condition is not likely to last for at least one year or result in the person’s death, he will not qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits.

Severity of the Impairment

The impairment does not meet the severity standards of the Listing of Impairments, also called the Blue Book. The SSA uses this reference tool to determine an applicant’s medical condition is severe enough to warrant disability benefits.

Ability to Work

If the applicant can perform the tasks of his current job, he will not qualify for disability benefits. You must be 100 percent disabled to qualify for SSDI or SSI. Having to struggle to maintain your job is not enough, as long as you can make more money than that year’s earnings limit.

Ability to Perform a Different Kind of Work

You might not be able to perform your current or any previous job, but the SSA will not stop there. They will explore whether you could go into a different line of work if you completed additional education or job training. The requirement to change your career depends on your age. Older workers are less likely to have to reinvent themselves.

Drug Addiction or Alcoholism

The SSA has strict rules about what impairments will qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits if the applicant has alcoholism or another drug addiction. Having an addiction will not, by itself, make a person eligible for disability benefits.

Provides Insufficient Medical Evidence of the Impairment

The SSA requires applicants to submit enough medical evidence to prove the extent and severity of the disease or injury. The Blue Book provides some guidance as to what the SSA expects for different medical conditions, but they can require additional diagnostic and treatment information as well. 

Applicant Does Not Cooperate with the SSA Evaluators

It is easy to understand why a person would get frustrated when dealing with the SSA on a disability claim. Even when things go smoothly, it can take a year or longer for the SSA to process the application. Most people who receive SSDI or SSI benefits had to go through at least one appeal to get declared disabled and eligible for benefits. Try to be patient. If you do not cooperate with the SSA evaluators, they can deny your application for that reason. 

Failure to Follow Prescribed Treatment

If an applicant does not follow the treating doctor’s orders about treatment for the medical condition, the SSA can deny the disability claim. The SSA will justify the denial by saying that you might have more function and ability to work if you completed the treatment your doctor prescribed.

Returning to Work

If an applicant returns to substantial work while the claim is pending, the SSA can deny the claim. You must be 100 percent disabled to receive SSDI or SSI benefits, so returning to work means that the person is not disabled. 

Other Reasons for Denial

You must have worked at jobs that paid into the Social Security system to qualify for SSDI benefits. The deductions from your paychecks help to fund the SSDI program. Think of those Social Security taxes as insurance premiums. If you did not pay insurance premiums, you cannot collect benefits. What’s more, you have to have worked not only long enough but recently enough to when your disability began in order to be considered “technically” eligible for SSDI benefits. 

The SSI program requires recipients to have very low income and few assets. The SSI program is a safety net for disabled people who do not qualify for SSDI because they did not work long enough at Social Security-participating jobs.

The application process for Social Security disability benefits is long and difficult. It can help to work with a Michigan Social Security disability lawyer who understands the process and knows what it takes to help you be approved as quickly as possible. Our staff will work with you, and your medical team, to ensure that all medical records are submitted for your case, including detailed Medical Source Statements that we draft for each client, to help position you in the best way possible to be approved.  Contact us today.