Making the decision to file for disability can be a difficult one. Most people don't like the idea of having to cut back on working, but when a health problem makes it nearly impossible to work, they really have no other choice. However, the approval rate for the first-time applicant is around 35%. That means 65% of those who apply for disability benefits will be denied and have to go through the appeals process. Here are three things that can cause your disability claim to be denied.
1. You make too much money.
Most people know that there are income limits once you begin receiving disability benefits, but they don't realize that the same income standards are used when you first apply as well. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses what is called substantial gainful activity, or SGA, to help determine whether or not an applicant is eligible to receive disability benefits.
As of 2015, the current SGA is $1,090 for non-blind applicants and $1,820 for those who are blind. If you make more than that when you apply for your disability benefits, you will be denied because, in their mind, you are still able to work full-time hours to make a living. Be sure to reduce your hours so you're only working part-time before you go through with your disability appeal.
2. You haven't followed your doctor's treatment plan.
Your disability claim can also be denied if your application shows you haven't followed the treatment plan prescribed for you. You have to demonstrate to the SSA that you have tried to improve your condition so you can work full-time. If they see that your doctor has suggested several treatment options and you haven't tried any of them, they won't approve your disability claim.
Of course, there are some valid reasons for not following through with certain treatments suggested by your doctor. At your appeal, you can defend your reasons for not following your doctor's treatment plan. Some acceptable excuses the SSA will consider include:
- The treatment violates your religious beliefs
- The treatment is too expensive
- The side effects of the treatment far outweigh the benefits
- You have an intense fear of surgery
- The surgery is far too risky for your current health condition
- You have a mental illness that causes you to not want to comply with any medical treatment
That list isn't exhaustive - there are other reasons the SSA may consider. However, you need to be certain that you take enough documentation to back up your reasons when you go to your appeal. The SSA won't just take your excuse without having proof to back it up.
3. The SSA tried contacting you for further information, but couldn't reach you.
When you apply for disability, you need to make sure to include accurate contact information so the SSA can reach you if they need more information. Oftentimes a disability examiner will contact an applicant to clarify information included with their application - or to see why certain information is missing.
For example, if you don't submit enough recent medical documentation with your application, an examiner may contact you to let you know you need to have a Social Security medical exam.
If the examiner tries to contact you, but they don't have accurate contact information, it can lead your claim to be denied. If your contact information changes after you file your claim, be sure to contact the SSA to update your information. For further assistance, contact a local disability attorney, such as Bruce K Billman.Share