Denied Disability Benefits

Denied SSDI multiple times what are my options?

Some disabled claimants will not qualify for SSI or SSDI benefits. Claimants may be denied SSDI benefits for a variety of reasons, both medical and nonmedical. Claimants who do not meet the nonmedical requirements for SSDI benefits have the option to continue to work or they may qualify and apply for Supplemental Security Income.

Assuming, however, the claimant has worked, paid sufficient taxes, has enough work credits, and has met all of the nonmedical requirements for SSDI, there are several steps to take if a claim is denied.

1. Review the Denial Letter

The first step after a disability denial is to review the denial letter. One of the most common reasons claims are denied is because a claimant lacks sufficient medical evidence to prove they are disabled and unable to perform work activity. This does not necessarily mean the claimant is disabled, but it can mean they need to get more medical evidence to prove their case.

In some cases, a claimant has not ever seen a doctor, making it almost impossible to win benefits. In other cases, however, a claimant may routinely see a doctor, but the doctor has failed to clearly document in their medical records how an injury or impairment may interfere with a claimant’s ability to work. A primary care doctor can be a claimant’s strongest advocate. Talk to your doctor and make sure they are clearly documenting your work limitations in your medical record.

In other cases, a claimant may have been denied because they failed to meet the nonmedical requirements for SSDI. If you believe the SSA lacks employment information about your case or has miscalculated your income and taxes paid, contact the SSA.

2. Review your prior disability process.

Many people keep filing initial disability applications over and over without getting new medical documentation or talking to a disability lawyer. Generally, a better alternative to filing multiple initial claims is to complete the appeal’s process. This is especially true at the hearing level where you will have your first opportunity to speak face to face with someone who has the authority to award benefits.

3. Review whether any of your actions may have led to your denial.

Many claimants have strong disability claims but either fail to understand the disability process or for some reason, do not do what it takes to be approved for SSDI benefits. For example, many claimants simply do not follow their doctor’s treatment recommendations. Unfortunately, failing to follow required medical treatment may be enough for the medical examiner to conclude that you are disabled. In fact, most examiners reason that if a claimant did follow the proper treatment plan they might be able to perform work if they had done so.

Another reason a claimant may be denied benefits is they failed to cooperate with the SSA (i.e. by not attending scheduled medical examinations or providing requested documents). The SSA receives millions of disability applications each year. They will not go out of their way to find you and remind you to send them information. If you want SSDI benefits, you will have to be proactive and respond to their requests.

4. Talk to a disability lawyer.

If you have been denied SSDI benefits this is the perfect time to contact a disability lawyer. Not only can they review your denial letter, but they can also help ensure you have sufficient medical records to prove your claim. They will also help you file your appeal paperwork. Remember, all appeals must be made 60 days from the date of the denial letter. Do not wait to talk to a disability lawyer.

5. File your own reconsideration appeal.

If after you have reviewed your denial letter and talked to a lawyer you decide to file your own appeal, that is always an option. Unfortunately, most reconsideration appeals are denied. In fact, the current denial rate is close to 80%. If your case is denied again, you can request an administrative hearing which will allow an Administrative Law Judge to review your claim.

6. Hire a disability lawyer to attend the administrative hearing.

Most disability applicants who have not hired a lawyer by their second denial will do so prior to the administrative hearing. Disability lawyers are professionals who argue cases just like yours in court every day. They will know exactly what evidence needs to be provided to help win your case.

Common Mistakes Claimants Make which lower their chance of an approval

Unfortunately, many claimants are denied disability benefits not because they are not disabled but because they make simple, common mistakes. Below are listed some of the common mistakes to avoid.

  • Assuming you will win disability benefits.
  • Failing to get proper medical care.
  • Failing to keep seeing a doctor while you wait for the disability decision.
  • Failing to follow you doctor’s prescribed treatment plan.
  • Not including all necessary information on the disability application.
  • Applying for benefits while working and earning too much money.
  • Avoiding SSA calls.
  • Failing to complete all the necessary forms and paperwork.
  • Failing to return requested documents to the SSA.
  • Failing to attend the consultative examination.
  • Moving and not leaving a forwarding address for the SSA to contact you.
  • Returning to work and making too much money while waiting for the disability determination.
  • Applying for disability benefits over and over again instead of filing a disability appeal.
  • Not talking to or hiring a lawyer when needed.

Doing any of the above unnecessarily jeopardizes your chances of winning benefits.