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 does a Disability Denial Letter from Social Security say?

Denial letters from the social security administration on Social Security Disability and SSI disability claims tend to be fairly generic. If you have filed a disability application in either program and the claim is denied, then you will receive what is known as a notice of disapproved claim.

The letter will typically begin by stating you are not disabled according to the rules of Social Security Disability and SSI. Following this statement will be the following:

1. A listing of the medical treatment sources that were used to make the decision. This list will usually mirror the list that you supplied to the social security office at the time of application. However, it may also include medical treatment providers that you did not list that were discovered when the disability examiner reviewed the claim. It may also omit certain sources that you listed.

Note: if some of your sources are not on this list, it does not necessarily mean that they were not used in the evaluation of your claim. It may simply mean that they were inadvertently left off when the list was typed in.

Howevever, later if your case goes to a disability hearing, you and your disability attorney will, at some point, review your social security file to determine which records were obtained by social security and if some records were not. Hearings always present an opportunity to add documentation to the file for the judge to review and this constitutes a large part of what attorneys do for their clients.

Of course, if you are concerned during the processing of a disability application or request for reconsideration appeal that not all your records are being reviewed, you can always contact the disability examiner who is handling your claim.

To do this, you can get the number for the disability determination services agency (DDS) from the social security office where you filed your claim. And when you call DDS, you can supply your social security number so they may look up your case and put you in contact with the examiner handling your claim.

2. A listing of the conditions for which your claim was evaluated (e.g. depression, degenerative disc disease).

3. A statement regarding your limitations and how it affects your ability to work. For example, on many notices of disapproved claim, the statement will indicate that while you are not capable of performing your past work, you are still capable of performing some type of other work (this is known, of course, as an "other work denial" and it is extremely common). This same paragraph will usually state that, in addition to your medical records, your age, education, and job training were used to make the decision on your claim.

4. The next section of the denial letter will state that "Doctors and other trained staff" looked at your case and made the decision. This means basically that a disability examiner (who has no medical training) did all the evaluation on your claim and before the final decision was made, a unit medical consultant--a doctor who works in the same case-processing unit as the disability examiner) briefly reviewed the disability examiner's writeup and assessment of the case before "signing off on it".

All in all, the denial letters sent to claimants by SSA are, for the most part, composed of boiler plate language. If you lined up 100 such notices of denial from 100 different claimants, the chances are good that most of them would look fairly identical. For this reason, analyzing a denial letter is not particularly productive.

The true significance of receiving a notice of disapproved claim is simply that it signals to the claimant that they should immediately file an appeal. If they have been denied after filing an application for disability, then this will be the time to file a request for reconsideration appeal. If they have been denied after a reconsideration has been completed, then they should file a request for a disability hearing.

In either instance, it may be time to consider finding a disability representative, either a disability attorney, or a non-attorney disability representative.

Essential Questions

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Related pages:

How to Appeal a disability claim denial from Social Security
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
What is a Social Security Disability Denial based on?
Are there ways to avoid being denied for SSI or Social Security Disability?
What does a Disability Denial Letter from Social Security say?
Reconsideration of a Social Security Disability denial- what does it involve?
What to do if you receive notification of a Social Security Disability or SSI claim denial
If you receive a Social Security Disability Denial quickly does that mean the case is weak?
What happens if my SSI or Social Security Disability Application is denied?
Social Security Disability Denied — The Reasons Why (medical denials)

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.