Can you be denied because of duration, i.e. how long a condition lasts?

A sizeable percentage of denials issued by the social security administration on disability claims are durational in nature.

What is a durational denial? The phrase simply means that an SSD or SSI claim was turned down because the disability examiner assigned to the case concluded (based on a review of the medical evidence) that the claimant's condition would not be disabling for twelve months or longer.

In retrospect (i.e. when prior decisions are reviewed by representatives -- lawyers or non attorneys), durational denials are often ill-formed creatures, mainly because the subjective nature of disability adjudication (decision-making on disability claims is supposed to be an objective process, however if you give three disability examiners the same case to work on, you may end up with three different decisions) can be even more pronounced.

Think of it this way. When a disability examiner denies a claim based on duration, this is being done by an individual with no formal medical training. And when the disability examiner who issues this denial confers with his or her unit medical consultant, the consultation is provided by an individual who has never treated the claimant in question. Yet, the examiner and the DDS consultant are both attempting to extrapolate a prognosis regarding the future outlook for a claimant's medical condition.

In theory, there's nothing wrong with durational denials. However, a fair number of these denials are probably somewhat shaky (a good example of this shakiness is when disability claimants who have severe mental impairments are issued a denial based on duration).

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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