Social Security Disability Definitions
Social Security Disability and SSI Overview
The Requirements for Disability
Social Security Disability and SSI Applications
Tips and Advice for Disability Claims
How long does Disability take?
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Disability Denial
Social Security Disability and SSI Denials
Social Security Disability and SSI Appeals
Social Security Mental Disability Benefits
Disability Benefits offered through Social Security
Benefits through SSI disability
Disability Benefits for Children
Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify
Social Security Disability and Working
Winning your Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability Back Pay Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI Awards and Award Notices
Disability Lawyers and Hiring an Attorney
Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions
What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?
Social Security Disability SSI and Medical Evidence
Filing for Disability Benefits
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
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Can You Avoid Being Denied on a Social Security Disability or SSI Claim?
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you will be approved for Social Security Disability (SSD) or SSI. The fact is that only about 30% of all initial disability claims are approved by DDS (the state agency that decides claims for Social Security), and the number of reconsideration appeals that are denied is even higher.
There are some simple things you can do to improve your chances of being approved by a disability examiner, however. Submitting a complete medical history with your disability application--that includes up-to-date contact information for physician(s) and medical treatment facilities--helps disability examiners get the information they need to decide a claim. If you have already been turned down once and have filed a reconsideration appeal, be sure to include along with it any new medical information that can help your case, or any medical information that you did not include with your initial application.
Submitting a complete work history, again with current contact information for past employers and specific details such as job titles, work skills, and past tasks you were required to perform in your positions, helps a disability examiner decide if your medical condition prevents you from performing past work, or any other type of work that an individual with your employment history could reasonably be expected to do.
If, despite your best efforts you are not approved for disability by DDS on a disability application or on a request for reconsideration (the first appeal), you can appeal again, this time at a hearing before a federal administrative law judge (ALJ). Statistics show that over 60% of all disability claims denied by DDS are later approved by an ALJ (when a claimant is represented; unrepresented claimants win approximately forty percent of their cases at the hearing level).
This is why it is so important for those who file for disability to appeal a denial rather than starting all over again with a new claim. Appealing a decision keeps your claim moving through the disability system, and if you are getting no relief from DDS you want your case to be reviewed by an ALJ as soon as possible.
To avoid being denied at the hearing level of consideration, the most important thing a claimant can do is to spend time preparing for the hearing. Request your most recent medical records from your physician, and submit them to the judge assigned to hear your case. Also, if you can get your physician to fill out a residual functional capacity (RFC) statement (or RFC form--if you have representation for your hearing, your disability lawyer will generally try to obtain a completed RFC form from one of your treating physicians), it will improve your chance of approval. Residual functional capacity statements and forms list activities that the claimant can (or cannot) do given the limitations of their medical condition.
Before your hearing, you should call social security and ask to review your case file (you would not do this, of course, if you are represented since your disability attorney would obtain a copy of your file as part of their preparation for the hearing). The file should include a record of all prior denials, the medical information the examiner considered in issuing these denials, as well as how the examiner classified your past work. If you find that there is anything in the disability examiner’s decision-making process that you do not agree with or feel was unfair, gather the information needed to present a coherent argument refuting the examiner’s logic before a judge.
If you have not obtained legal counsel prior to this point, it is strongly advised that you do so. Most individuals are not nearly as capable of advocating for themselves as an attorney who specializes in social security disability law and regulation.
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria