How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

What if you Receive a Disability Denial from Social Security?

What does it mean when you receive a denial notice from Social Security? It simply means that the Social Security Administration has determined that, according to their rules and regulations, you are not disabled at this time and that Social Security feels that you can either do work that you have done in the past, or that there is other work that you are able to do.

What are the "rules and regulations" as they pertain to eligibility determinations?

Disability claims are approved by SSA (Social Security Administration) in one of two separate ways. The first is by meeting or equaling the requirements of a disability listing. Listings are the specific approval criteria for certain physical and mental conditions in the blue book, also titled "Disability Evaluation under Social Security".

The blue book, or Social Security Disability List of Impairments functions as a guidebook for decision-makers on claims, i.e. disability examiners and administrative law judges. However, not all conditions are listed in the blue book. There are no listings, for example, for fibromyalgia or carpal tunnel syndrome. Additionally, some listings have been removed or deprecated (e.g. the endocrine listings for obesity and diabetes).

Because most disability approvals will not occur by satisfying the requirements of a listing, SSA provides a secondary means of approval. This method uses a five step sequential disability evaluation process which, if passed, results in a medical vocational allowance.

Qualifying for disability benefits under this process means that A) a claimant must be found to have a severe condition, B) the condition must last for at least one year, C) the condition must be severe enough to prevent the claimant's ability to return to their past work, and D) the claimant's condition must be severe enough to prevent them from engaging in other types of work that their combination of education and work skills might ordinarily qualify them for.

If you receive a denial on your claim

You should not be discouraged if you receive a disability denial. The disability examiners at DDS, a.k.a. disability determination services--the state disability agency that handles disability claim decisions for the social security administration--typically deny the great majority of the cases they evaluate.

Historically, the average rate of denial at the initial claim level is approximately 70 percent. Requests for reconsideration (this is the first appeal) which are also handled by DDS examiners are denied at an even higher rate--more than 80 percent. This is why so many disabled individuals do not receive a Social Security Disability or SSI approval until the administrative law judge hearing.

You may ask, of course, what changes when you reach this level of appeal? Well, an administrative law judge may use a different interpretation of Social Security regulations when making their medical decision. And in many cases a judge will give more weight and consideration to the opinion of claimant's physician if one has been submitted in writing. Finally, a disability judge may find that prior decision-makers were incorrect in denying your claim.

However, for most claimants who win their cases at the ALJ (administrative law judge) hearing level, the most significant differences between this level of appeal and the prior levels of the system are the following:

1. You may present your case directly to the individual who is making the decision on your disability claim. This is not something that occurs at the initial or reconsideration levels where the decision is made by a disability examiner and where the claimant is basically just a file in a caseload.

2. You and your attorney or non-attorney representative may present your interpretation of the facts; in other words, you will have the opportunity to state exactly why it is that the physical or mental limitations resulting from your disabling impairments prevent you from being able to engage in substantial and gainful work activity, either in the performance of work that you've done in the past, or in the performance of some type of other work for which you might be suited based on your work skills, age, education, and your mental and/or physical residual functional capacity.

Note: Residual functional capacity is simply a measure of what you are still capable of doing despite your condition.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

Social Security Notice of Denial for a Disability Application or Appeal
Receiving a Notice of Denial on a Social Security Disability or SSI Case
The Social Security Disability Denial Letter
Is there a Letter showing the reasons why I was denied for disability?
If you receive a Social Security Denial Letter, file a prompt appeal and do a followup on it
Letter showing why I was denied for disability
What if you Receive a Disability Denial from Social Security?
Denied at disability hearing and filed appeal with appeals council
Can you get a quick disability approval in Missouri
How long does it take for a disability decision in missouri?
Will I qualify for disability Benefits in Missouri?

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, SSDRC.com 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 SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.