Appealing a denial of Social Security Disability Benefits when the denial is non-medical

Nine times out of ten, a person who has received a denial of Social Security Disability benefits would be wise to follow the disability appeal process versus starting from scratch and filing for disability again.

The reason behind this is fairly clear: individuals who are given denials and who then submit fresh applications are typically denied again.

In the large majority of cases, appealing a denial will simply be more practical and will put a disability claimant in a better position to eventually win their disability benefits (I say "eventually" because disability appeals can take months).

And, of course, there is the issue of time. Since the disability process already consumes a great amount of time, starting with a new disability claim--that will probably be given a denial--insteading of submitting an appeal usually amounts to a large waste of very valuable time.

However, having said that, there are instances in which appealing a denial of Social Security Disability benefits is not practical and not the best option. And, generally, this is the case when a claim has been issued a denial on the basis of non-medical criteria.

For example, if a person files for disability and it turns out that they are not eligible to apply based on income (you can apply for disability even if you are working, but your income must fall below a certain threshold called SGA, or substantial gainful activity), they will be issued a technical denial.

In such cases, a person's claim is not reviewed medically---i.e., the medical records are NOT gathered and a medical determination is NOT made. Therefore, in such cases, there is really no point in appealing a denial (a technical denial) and it simply makes more sense to file a new disability application with the social security office.

However, in most cases, a denial will be issued after a medical determination has been made and, therefore, most denials should be appealed.

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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