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How to become a positive statistic: appealing an SSD denial

A denial letter from the Social Security Administration is not a reason for you to give up on Social Security Disability benefits. In fact, the SSA frequently denies the first submission. On average, only 21% of annual initial claims receive approvals. Appeals bring that number up to an average 32% approval rate annually. While this sounds low, keep in mind that the number of workers who apply is often around 2 million per year.

Identifying the cause of the denial and following the appeal process may make your application one of the positive statistics.

Why does the SSA deny applicants?

The SSA rejects some applications because there is not enough medical evidence to prove the applicant has an eligible disability. Including documentation and medical evidence from your doctor may help prevent your appeal from rejection. Other common reasons for denial include:

  • Doctors do not expect the impairment to last a full 12 months
  • Doctors do not consider the impairment to be severe
  • The worker can perform his or her regular job duties
  • The worker can perform other job duties
  • The worker’s impairment is the result of drug or alcohol use
  • The worker does not fully follow the doctor’s prescribed treatment

You may also receive a denial if you return to work while the SSA is processing your claim.

How can applicants appeal a denial?

The SSA provides four levels of appeal. First, you can ask for a reconsideration, which allows you to present your claim to a different representative. If you receive a second denial, you can take your case before an administrative law judge. The third option is to request a review by the SSA’s appeals council. Finally, you may take your case to a federal district court.

This process can take months or even years, so you should pay attention to every detail of your denial letter to determine what evidence will overturn the representative’s reasoning.