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The many reasons Social Security disability benefits get denied

You have invested close to 30 years working for your company. As a dutiful and reliable employee, you have gotten the promotions you deserved. Now, you face an unexpected challenge. Your serious medical condition promises to put an end to your career. Your condition has led to a permanent disability, and you no longer can work anywhere or anytime.

Through some research and guidance, you pursue Social Security disability benefits. You understand that your ailment qualifies you for these necessary benefits. And you understand that your situation fits in with the criteria of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) program. However, you received a shock when SSA rejected your application. Why did this happen? It is obvious to you, your family and employer that you can no longer work. What was the reason for this unexpected rejection?

Two-thirds applicants rejected

Try to stay calm as the likelihood of your receiving benefits remains good once you reapply. With this initial rejection, you have joined this dubious club. During the 10-year period from 2009 through 2018, about two-thirds of SSD disability applicants received a rejection. In the SSA’s most recent annual statistical report, nearly 500,000 workers had applications denied in 2018

In reviewing the SSA’s tabulations, here is a breakdown of the main reasons why the government denied applications for SSD benefits:

  • The individual had the wherewithal to work a different type of job: 40%
  • The applicant’s ailment was not severe: 24.2%
  • The worker could still perform the duties of his or her previous job: 9.3%
  • The applicant’s medical condition would not last at least a year: 4.6%

An assortment of reasons comprised the remaining 21.9% of the rejections. This list included that alcohol or drug addiction caused the impairment; the provision of inadequate medical evidence; failure to abide by prescribed and recommended medical treatment; the choice to stop pursuing the claim; and returning to work before the disability could be confirmed.

Some people who apply for SSD benefits feel guilty about doing so, because they – ignoring reality – still believe that they can continue to work. You paid into the Social Security system, so you deserve the benefits. And if your initial application gets denied, appeal your case.