Many clients contact us to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits once they receive a denial from the Social Security Administration (SSA). In many cases, they are frustrated and confused about the denial.
This usually occurs when a claimant has serious medical setbacks which prevent them from returning to their old job. They’ve tried to go back to work but can’t, and the medical evidence suggests that their problems are severe and ongoing. Let’s discuss the main reasons people with severe medical problems who cannot work may receive a disability denial from the SSA.
You Can Adjust to New Work
When reviewing your SSDI claim, the SSA evaluates your medical problems to determine if you are able to work. While they do look at the work you’ve done previously, the standard for approval isn’t solely whether you can perform your old job.
Instead, SSA will consider you disabled if:
- You cannot do work that you did before;
- They decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and
- Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
Practically speaking, this means that SSA will look at any job you could possibly do before granting disability benefits. In many cases, they use a vocational expert to do this. So, if you were performing a physically demanding job for years, but your medical problems prevent you from doing that, SSA will review your claim to determine if you can perform less demanding work.
We recommend that our clients evaluate their claim using the least demanding job as a guide. Could you sit in a parking lot booth and press a button to raise and lower the gate? If so, you may not receive disability benefits.
Your Medical Evidence Is Lacking
Another common reason individuals with good disability claims are denied is because their medical evidence is weak. In some cases, this can be a matter of timing (i.e. you applied before you had sufficient evidence or treatment). In others, it may mean that the medical treatment you received to date is either inconsistent or confusing.
One of the reasons we recommend working with a trained disability lawyer and with our firm in particular is because we spent a great deal of time organizing and reviewing your medical evidence. If there are holes or concerns related to your claim, we can help you find those. We can also recommend ways to strengthen your claim. Even with strong evidence, you may find that when you get to the hearing, a judge may request more medical evidence. If so, they’ll send you to an expert for follow-up. It’s important to comply with these requests promptly so the judge can make an informed decision.
To summarize, claimants who have persistent and severe medical problems preventing them from working are still commonly denied. No matter the reason, we recommend calling in the professionals when you receive a denial.