The Social Security Disability Denial Letter

The Social Security denial letter includes a listing of the medical sources used to make your disability determination. Social Security also offers an explanation of why they denied your disability claim.

The letter might seem like a lot of confusing legal jargon; however these phrases offer a clue as to why your disability claim was denied: 'non-severe', 'does not meet an impairment listing', 'past relevant work' and 'other work.

If the letter states that you have a non-severe medical condition, Social Security does not consider your medical condition severe enough to be disabling. This means that your disability claim was denied because you do not have a severe physical impairment or mental condition.

If you do not meet or equal an impairment listing, it does not mean that Social Security considers your disabling condition to be non-severe. It simply means that your condition does not meet the severity requirements outlined in an impairment listing in the Social Security Disability list of impairments, also known as the blue book, which bears the title "Disability Evaluation Under Social Security".

If this is the case, your denial letter will acknowledge that you have a severe disabling condition that does limit your functional capacity. If your disabling condition does not meet or equal the criteria of an impairment listing, Social Security must consider if the limitations imposed by your impairment prevent you from doing any of your past relevant work or if you are able to do any other kind of work given your age, residual functional capacity, education, and job skills.

Your denial letter will include specific language with regard to your ability to return to your past work or if you are able to perform some type of other work in the national economy. Your disability claim can be denied for the ability to perform past relevant work or other kinds of work (after your age, education, functional limitations, and the transferability of your job skills are considered) in the general economy.

While the legal language of a Social Security denial notice may be confusing, the two most important things contained in your disability denial letter are A) the date of the notice and B) the explanation as to how to appeal your disability denial.

The date in the upper right hand corner of your denial notice begins your sixty-day appeal period. Social Security actually allows you five extra days for the mailing of your notice, which effectively gives you a sixty-five day appeal period. Your appeal must be in the possession of the Social Security Administration on the sixty-fifth day after the date of your denial letter--if your appeal is not received by the sixty-fifth day, you may have to file a new disability application.

Of course, it is important to read your disability denial letter, because the letter may also reveal information that might be valuable for your appeal. You should always make sure to review the medical sources that Social Security has listed as the basis of their medical disability determination. If important medical information is missing, you may be able to improve the chances of your disability case by providing the missing medical information.

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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