While no methods exist to guarantee you will receive approval for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), there are ways to avoid being denied for SSI or Social Security Disability.
One action you can take from the beginning is to work with a good disability attorney who focuses on disability law. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is notorious for its unpredictability, and the process of applying for SSDI or SSI has many nuances and complexities. A lawyer with experience in this process can help you navigate these challenges.
Lastly, your attorney can help you gather and submit supporting evidence. The SSA will use this evidence to evaluate and decide your disability benefit claim. The evidence you submit should be thorough, well-organized, and unambiguous.
Why Might the SSA Deny an Application?
The SSA requires you to meet its standards in both the medical and non-medical, or vocational, categories. Most applicants are familiar with the medical requirements:
- You must have a condition that renders you incapable of substantial gainful employment; and
- You must have had that condition or be expected to have it for at least a year.
If your condition is not severe or is only temporary, you might receive a denial from the SSA.
However, not all denials occur on medical grounds. Some applicants do not meet the vocational requirements, which differ based on whether you are applying for SSDI or SSI.
SSDI applicants must have paid a sufficient amount into the Social Security system during their working years. SSI applicants must not exceed a certain threshold of income and assets. Your attorney can evaluate your work history and financial situation and determine if the vocational requirements pose a potential challenge.
What Evidence Will Help My Application?
Whether the SSA approves or denies your claim could hinge on the strength of your evidence. Your attorney should help you put together a compelling claim that includes the following:
- Extensive medical records;
- Statements from your treating physicians;
- Your work history dating back 15 years; and
- Other evidence showing the functional limitations your medical condition presents.
Your attorney also can help by keeping a line of communication open with the SSA disability examiner reviewing your claim. If the examiner is missing evidence they need to make a decision or is not clear on something, straightening the situation out is much easier when your attorney has established rapport.
What Are the Stages of the Disability Application and Appeal Process?
There are many levels of the disability application process. You could receive an approval or denial at any stage.
The first stage is your initial application. While every applicant’s goal, of course, is to receive approval at this point, very few do.
Instead, they move to the second stage of the SSA’s appeal process, which is a request for reconsideration. The applicant resubmits their claim, adding more supporting evidence if they have it, and requests that the SSA reconsider its decision. If your claim gets denied on a reconsideration appeal, you move to the third stage.
At the third stage, the SSA gives you the right to plead your case in front of a live person during a disability hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). You have a much better chance of avoiding another denial at this stage.
The odds of a judge issuing a denial at this stage are even lower for applicants with attorneys on their case. Accordingly, some lawyers and disability representatives focus on ALJ hearings and do not put as much time or effort into securing approvals at the initial application or first appeal stage.
While having an attorney who focuses on winning at the ALJ stage is better than having none at all, getting to that stage takes several months—or even a year or longer—and multiple rejections. You can avoid all that by getting approved on your initial application or, failing that, your first appeal. At the Disability Advantage Group, we work on trying to get our clients approved at the stage they are at when they hire us, not just the ALJ stage.
How Can I Talk to a Disability Attorney Today?
The attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group, want to help you avoid a denial. We offer free claim evaluations to get started. Meet with a member of our team and have all your questions answered. To schedule an appointment right away, call us at 865-566-0800.