Social Security Disability Resource Center

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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

Why was I denied disability in California?

The most common reason for a denial of an initial claim in California or any other state is the lack of proper medical documentation. All SSD and SSI cases are decided primarily on the basis of medical evidence. In most cases, as well, Social Security will review vocational evidence (pertaining to your work history) in addition to your medical treatment history.

However, in every single case, the information that will lead Social Security to approve or deny a claim will come from the claimant's records.

How are disability cases lacking when it comes to medical evidence? In many instances, the Social Security Administration will have difficulty obtaining a claimant's medical evidence simply because the claimant has not provided enough information about their medical treatment sources at the time of application.

This is in particular why we so often stress this one piece of advice: when a claimant has an appointment for a disability application interview, they should take the time to write down their medical treatment history ahead of time. This should include the names of all their doctors, or treating physicians, but also the names and addresses of all medical providers, as well as the names of all diagnosed conditions.

Writing down this information beforehand will often prevent crucial information from being accidentally omitted during the interview. And by giving full and complete information to the claims representative at the Social Security office, the disability examiner who later receives the claim (and makes a decision on it) will be in a position to get all the needed records ordered and gathered in as timely a fashion as possible.

Note: the single largest delay in receiving a decision on a disability claim in California has to do with how long it takes SSA to get the medical records gathered.

But difficulties in gathering the evidence is only part of the problem. In the final analysis, a disability claim will be denied because the claimant's case does not include evidence that proves that they are no longer able to work and earn what SSA refers to as a substantial and gainful income.

To be considered disabled under Social Security administrative law and procedure, it must be shown that they no longer, as a result of their condition, or conditions, possess the ability to engage in substantial and gainful work activity.

How is this proven? In the majority of claims, it will boil down to analyzing the claimant's work history to determine what was required of them in the past, as well as what skills they have that may allow them to do some type of other work.

If the claimant and/or their disability attorney or disability representative can build a case that "proves" that the functional limitations caused by their physical or mental condition eliminates A) their ability to go back to a past job and B) makes it impossible for them to switch to a new type of work, they may be approved for disability.

Proving a case, however, often requires an indepth knowledge of Social Security regulations (title 20 of the federal code), as well as the vocational grid rules that direct decisions of "disabled" or "not disabled" on claims, as well as some knowledge of various SSRs (social security court rulings).

It is precisely for these reasons that claimants who are typically unrepresented at the first two levels of the disability claim system (application and reconsideration appeal) and who also have scant knowledge of how cases are decided are generally denied. And it goes without saying that at the hearing level, possessing a substantial knowledge of Social Security administrative law and procedure will be even more important, as the case will be presented to a federal ALJ, or administrative law judge.

  • 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

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    The SSDRC Disability Blog

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    Getting disability in North Carolina

    Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

    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