Social Security Disability RC

How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
Social Security Disability list of impairments
How to Qualify for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyers FAQ, Disability Back Pay

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.

Essential Questions

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Receiving a Disability Award Letter

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Related pages:

Can your doctor get you approved for disability?
When does Social Security send you to an xray?
Does my doctor decide if I am disabled?
If I Get Denied Twice For SSD or SSI Disability, What Do I Do?
What Are The Reasons For Social Security Disability Cases Being Denied?
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These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

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?

For the sake of clarity, is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.