If I am Denied For Social Security Disability Because they say I can work, What are my Options?

Social Security informs the majority of those who file for disability that they can work either at their past job or another job as it is performed in the general economy. The national average for denials at the initial disability claim level is about sixty-five percent and those who file a reconsideration appeal are denied about eighty-five percent of the time. What should you do if you are denied by Social Security?

You need to file a reconsideration of your initial disability denial, and do not be discouraged if that is denied as well. Reconsideration appeals should basically be viewed as a stepping-stone to the request for an administrative law judge hearing. The administrative law judge hearing has the highest approval rate of all of the disability levels. The national average for Social Security Disability and SSI hearing approvals is about sixty-six percent.

Finally, you have only a couple of options if your disability claim is denied. You can give up and go back to work, which may be practically impossible if your disabling condition is causing significant functional limitations. Or, you may begin the Social Security Disability appeal process, which can be a struggle in itself both financially and emotionally.

It may take a long time to be approved for disability benefits. There are many disability claimants who do not even get a hearing date for more than a year after they file their request for a disability hearing. However, if you cannot work there is not much else you can do but follow this process and try to win your disability benefits.

If you receive a denial on your application for disability, due to the perception by the social security administration that you can engage in work activity, you should do the following:

1. Contact the social security office where you initiated your claim. Do this immediately and inform them that you wish to file an appeal. This will prompt the social security office to send you the necessary appeal forms.

2. If you have representation, contact your disability lawyer immediately. Your lawyer should receive copies of everything you receive from SSA, including notices of denial. However, in many cases, the attorney of record will not receive what the claimant received in the mail, or vice-versa. Contact your lawyer to make sure that both of you are aware of the status of the claim. Your lawyer at this point will submit your appeal for you.

3. If you are not presently represented, consider finding representation. Representation is not necessary for most individuals on a disability application. Once the application has been denied, however, and the claimant is forced to enter into the appeal process, it makes perfect sense to begin searching for a good representative.

This is especially true because the first appeal that is available to claimants, the request for reconsideration, has a higher-than-eighty-percent rate of denial. Meaning? Most claimants will have to request the second appeal, which involves a hearing before a federal disability judge. At disability hearings, claimants are usually best prepared if they have representation.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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