How to Understand the Disability Denial Letter From SSA

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If you have applied for Social Security disability benefits, there is a good chance that your initial application may be denied. A large number of disability claims are denied at the first stage and succeed only after the applicants file an appeal against the denial. A Social Security disability lawyer can help you with the process of appealing the denial and seeking an administrative hearing.

Although you can appeal the denial, it is important to first understand exactly why the claim was denied in the first place. The key to understanding this is in the denial letter you receive from the Social Security Administration (SSA). This letter details your medical conditions, explains how these conditions compare with SSA’s standards, and determines how your application doesn’t meet SSA’s requirements.

Here is a look at some of the most common terms and phrases used by SSA when denying an application.

Non-Severe Medical Condition

This is common grounds for denial of Social Security disability benefits applications. For you to qualify for these benefits, you must be able to show that you suffer from a serious medical condition. The condition must also be disabling in that it prevents you from undertaking meaningful work and earning a decent monthly wage.

If a medical condition is not severe enough to handicap you in this specific way, SSA may deem it as not severe enough. It is important to note that the severity of the condition itself, or the nature of the condition, is not enough to warrant the success of your claim. Instead, you must also be able to show that the condition affects your ability to earn a living.

Ability to Do Past or Other Work

As noted above, your ability to work is an important factor that is considered when making a decision regarding your disability benefits claim. SSA also considers your previous work experience in this regard. For instance, if you have been working at a desk job at an office and now suffer a severe medical condition, SSA will determine whether you can go back to doing your previous work in spite of your disability. If it is the case, SSA will mention in the denial letter that you are fit to perform ‘past work.’

It is also possible that you are not able to go back to your past work but can perform other tasks that are in line with your work skills and experience. SSA will also take into view your age, education, and functional limitations imposed by your condition before deciding that you can do other tasks. In such a case, your denial letter will state that you can perform ‘other work.’

Does Not Meet an Impairment Listing

SSA maintains a detailed ‘Listing of Impairments’ in its famous Blue Book. In general, if you have a disability that matches one of the listings, your application is likely to succeed sooner. If your disability does not match or equal a listed impairment, SSA may deny your application. The formal reason for denial in such a case would be that your condition ‘does not meet an impairment listing.’

Appealing the Denial

If your application has been denied on any of the grounds listed above, all is not lost. A large number of applicants muster success through the appeals process. During 2016 alone, more than 45% of the applicants who sought an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing for their claim met success. So an initial denial is not the end of the line for many applicants.

If you have been denied benefits because your disability doesn’t meet a listed impairment, for instance, you can present detailed medical evidence to explain the nature and severity of your condition. This can help you successfully receive benefits.

In all cases of denial, it is imperative that you file an appeal within 60 days of the date of the letter. This date will be mentioned in the upper right-hand corner of the denial letter. You will also need the help of a qualified lawyer when proceeding with the appeals process.

How Can a Social Security Lawyer Help?

If your disability benefits application has met an initial denial, you must hire an experienced Social Security lawyer at the earliest. Here at J. Robert Surface, we have a long experience of handling disability benefits denials. Our lawyers work with you to understand the denial and then file an appeal at the earliest. We also ensure that you have all the relevant evidence to back up your claim. Get in touch with us today to discuss your disability benefits claim with our lawyers.