Social Security Disability Resource Center

Overview | How to Qualify | Applications
Requirements | How long it takes | Back Pay
Mental Disability | What is a disability? | Tips
SSI Benefits | How to Win | Disability Awards
Hearings | Appeals | List of Disabling Conditions

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.

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

  • What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

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    The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration

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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?
    What happens if you get denied for social security disability three times?
    Why Will A Social Security Disability Application Get Denied?
    How Many Times Will Social Security Disability Deny You before You Get Approved for Disability?
    Can You Avoid Being Denied on a Social Security Disability or SSI Claim?
    What happens if a reconsideration for Social Security Disability or SSI is denied?
    What should be done if your disability is denied?
    How do you appeal if you are denied for Social Security disability or SSI?
    Should you get Help from a Disability Attorney before the Claim has been Denied?
    Social Security Disability For Back Condition pain in California
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    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