If you’ve been denied after filing a claim for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, you’re far from alone. In fact, most SSD claimants receive a notice of denial after filing a claim. Statistically speaking, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies initial SSD claims at a rate of 65%, and reconsiderations (the initial stage of appeals) have an even higher denial rate of 85%.
After you find out your claim has been denied, you may be feeling frustrated, stressed, and anxious — but one thing you shouldn’t feel is hopeless. Even if the statistics regarding SSD claim denials seem discouraging, it’s important to remember that you’re not a statistic. Your case is unique, and just because some appeals are denied at an 85% rate doesn’t mean that your particular case has an 85% chance of being denied.
However, if you want your Social Security Disability appeal to have the best chance of success, it’s important to understand the next steps you need to take and what you can do differently this time around.
Understanding Your Social Security Disability Denial Notice
The denial notice you received from the SSA should contain a summary of your medical condition and impediments as well as the medical and non-medical records the SSA considered in rendering its decisions. The denial notice should also contain an explanation for your denial.
Some of the most common reasons that the SSA uses to deny Social Security Disability claims include:
- You don’t meet the basic non-medical requirements (also called a technical denial).
- Your medical condition won’t last long enough or isn’t severe enough.
- You failed to follow the treatment plan your doctor prescribed.
- You refused to cooperate with the SSA, including providing your medical history and attending any exams that they requested you attend.
- The SSA can’t find you or get in touch with you.
- Your disability is related to substance abuse issues.
- There’s not enough medical evidence to support your claim.
Your denial notice may also include a “technical rationale,” which is a detailed explanation of the factors that caused the SSA to deny your claim. If the denial notice you received doesn’t include a rationale, make sure to request your file from the Social Security Administration so you can find out this information. Understanding why your claim was initially denied is crucial if you want your appeal to succeed.
Why You Should Appeal Your SSD Denial
Most SSD claimants who receive a denial notice don’t pursue their claim any further. Some people simply give up on the process, but many others don’t act quickly enough after receiving a notice of denial. Once you’ve received a notice of denial, you only have 60 days (plus five for mailing) to file an appeal before you’ll lose your right to appeal. If this happens, you’ll have to start over from scratch with a new Social Security Disability application if you want to receive any benefits.
Because filing an appeal sounds like a lot of work, some people simply start over and try to file a brand-new claim; however, this wastes additional time and almost always ends with a claim being denied for the same reasons as the first attempt. The appeals process, on the other hand, typically offers your best chance of successfully proving your claim and being awarded benefits.
If you’ve received a notice of denial, it’s critical to request an appeal immediately and give yourself plenty of time rather than waiting until the end of the 60-day window. And if you want your appeal to have the best chance, you should strongly consider working with an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer who can guide you through the appeals process and make sure your claim has a fighting chance.
Do You Need a Social Security Disability Attorney?
While it’s possible to successfully appeal an SSD denial without help from an attorney, statistics show that a disability claimant who is represented by an attorney at the hearing level is twice as likely to be approved compared to a claimant who represents themselves.
Why do your odds improve so much when you work with an attorney? The fact is that working with the Social Security Administration’s many rules and procedures can be confusing, and most people have no idea how to navigate the process and prepare for a hearing. An experienced attorney, on the other hand, should understand every aspect of the process and be able to draw on past experiences they have had with the system. They should also have a good idea of what the judge in your case is looking for and what questions they need to ask medical experts to make sure that crucial information comes to light.
Even people who successfully appeal an SSD claim without help from an attorney may not obtain the results they could have had if they had worked with an SSD lawyer. For example, an experienced attorney can track down important medical records and test results and work with physicians to obtain and organize detailed statements about your medical conditions. They may also be able to use their knowledge of Social Security Disability law to obtain a more favorable “onset date” (the date your benefits should have begun) in your case, which could increase the overall amount of back pay you receive.
Disability lawyers also work on a contingent-fee basis, which means there’s little risk to you — if you don’t win your appeal, your lawyer doesn’t get paid. While your lawyer will receive a percentage of your back pay if your claim succeeds and the SSA approves your benefits, the law limits their fees to 25% of the past-due benefits you receive, up to a maximum of $6,000.
There’s certainly no requirement that says you must work with an attorney for your Social Security Disability appeal, and working with an attorney doesn’t guarantee a successful outcome.
However, when you consider the risk versus the potential reward, working with an experienced SSD attorney is a statistically smart decision that can pay great dividends and save you a lot of stress and frustration throughout the Social Security Disability filing and appeals process.
The Law Offices of David L. Hood: Representing Social Security Disability Applicants in Myrtle Beach, Georgetown, Murrells Inlet, and Throughout Georgetown and Horry Counties
If you’ve received a notice of denial for your Social Security Disability claim, you may be feeling frustrated, but don’t count yourself out. While the process of appealing an SSD claim denial isn’t a simple one, our team at The Law Offices of David L. Hood is here to help. With years of experience representing clients throughout the SSD filing and appeals process, we’ll fight to make sure that your claim receives full and fair consideration and work to ensure that all the appropriate evidence comes to light throughout the process.
To speak with Attorney David L. Hood at no risk to you, call the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or fill out the online contact form on our homepage and we’ll get in touch shortly to schedule your free initial consultation.
U.S. Social Security Administration. (2016, October). Annual statistical report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program 2015. Washington, DC: Social Security Administration Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics (SSA Publication No. 13-11826). Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2015/di_asr15.pdf
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.