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What Are the Most Common Reasons for Social Security Disability Denials?


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Social Security Disability (SSD or SSDI) is a workers’ insurance program established by the United States federal government. The program was established in recognition of the fact that a 20 year old worker has a 1 in 5 chance of become disabled at some point during his or her working life. The fact is that even the hardest working and most dedicated individuals are human. While many hard working individuals will try and work through the pain, discomfort  and other effects caused by their impairment some reach a point where they can no longer work.

Despite perceptions to the contrary, receiving disability benefits is not a simple endeavor that can be accomplished without planning and dedication. However, people make fundamental errors on their benefit applications that forecloses the chance for a benefits award. An experienced Fayetteville AR disability lawyer can provide the guidance and insight that can make the difference between a successful application and a denial. The remainder of this post will examine a few of the common SSD mistakes made be applicants.

You do not have sufficient work credits to qualify

It is important to understand that the SSD program is an insurance program for workers. As an insurance program, an individual must qualify for coverage to obtain benefits. A worker can determine if he or she qualifies by seeing how many work credits they would be required to have for the number of years they have worked. In 2015, workers can earn 1 work credit for each $1,220 they earn. Up to four work credits can be earned each year. For instance, a person who becomes disabled at age 44 would need to accumulate 22 work credits. If the disability onset date occurs at age 54, then 32 work credits would be required. You never lose work credits, but if you do not have sufficient credits, you will not qualify for SSD.

You earn too much money to qualify for the program

Before the Social Security Administration (SSA) ever considers or disability or impairment, you must also meet the income-based non-medical program requirement. Those who qualify for SSD must be, generally, unable to work and perform productive activities – what the SSA calls substantial gainful activity (SGA). SGA is adjusted on a yearly basis and is indexed against the national average wage index. Furthermore, a higher limit applies if the applicant is blind. In 2015, the limits on SGA for a blind individual is $1820 a month. For disabled but non-blind individuals, the SGA limit is $1090. If you exceed these limits you will not qualify for federal disability benefits.

Your disability is not considered to be severe or will not last for the required time period

One of the most frustrating denials a benefits applicant can receive is one that states that their condition was not considered to be severe by the SSA. The individual has undoubtedly been suffering from the effects of his or her disability or impairment, and now they receive a letter from the government that appears to say that there condition isn’t bad enough. What the government is really saying when you receive a denial of this type is:

  • The impairment must be medically determinable.
  • The impairment must be supported by objective medical records or testing results.
  • The disability must cause severe limitations in your daily activities and prevent you from working.
  • The disability must be expected to persist for at least 12 months or to result in death.

Understanding the exact nature of your medical denial can help you prepare for a SSD appeal.

The SSA cannot find you or you do not reply to the SSA’s requests

The SSD benefits application process is an ongoing one that can last for several months or longer. During the process the SSA or its Disability Determination Service (DDS) may contact the applicant or his or her attorney.  The SSA may request additional information regarding you condition, reports of daily activities or medical tests and results. You must respond to the SSA’s requests or risk denial. If you move often or otherwise do not have a permanent address, this can be a hardship. One way to work around this requirement is to appoint a Social Security representative. Your representative can receive and handle all correspondence regarding your SSA application.

Contact the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak for trusted SSD representation

For more than 20 years Ken Kieklak of the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak has fought for dedicated Arkansans who can no longer work due to an impairment or disability. To schedule a free and confidential SSDI consultation call (479) 316-0438 today or contact our firm online.

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