There is no limit to how many times you can be denied Social Security Disability.
If you receive a denial after submitting an application for Social Security Disability benefits, you can either file a request for reconsideration or start over with a new claim. Every case is different, but it is generally better to file a request for reconsideration as this improves your chances of receiving an Administrative Law Judge hearing — the stage of the appeals process with the highest approval rate.
Social Security Disability Denials and What They Mean
It is extremely common to receive a denial on your first application. The approval rate for initial Social Security Disability applications is 28 percent as of 2016, which means less than one in every three applicants receives an approval on their first try.
Social Security issues denials when it believes an applicant failed to meet its medical or non-medical requirements, but you can file an appeal that demonstrates the validity of your claim in pursuit of a grant of benefits afterward.
Medical vs. Non-Medical Requirements
Social Security has two sets of requirements for disability:
- Medical requirements. This is the health condition or conditions for which you are claiming disability.
- Non-medical requirements. This involves your income, assets, and work history.
Most years, non-medical denials exceed medical denials. In 2016, more than 871,000 applicants received denials for non-medical reasons, while 547,000 received denials for not meeting the medical criteria.
Differences Between Social Security Disability Programs
There are two Social Security disability benefits programs: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability (SSDI). The medical requirements are the same for both programs, but the non-medical requirements differ substantially. It is important to understand the difference between SSDI and SSI to create a compelling appeal.
SSDI is a disability insurance program funded by payroll taxes. The program thus requires you to have paid enough into the system to claim benefits. In contrast, SSI is a means-tested benefit program for the needy. As such, it is limited to applicants whose income and assets fall below certain thresholds.
A veterans benefits lawyer who understands who qualifies for SSI can help you navigate the complexities of this process as it applies to your specific situation.
Next Steps if You Receive a Denial of Benefits
If Social Security denied your initial application, there are several options available for you to continue to pursue the benefits you deserve.
Request for Reconsideration
You can appeal the denial of benefits you received by formally filing a request for reconsideration. This process allows you to demonstrate that Social Security erred in denying your application. You can attach additional evidence and supporting documentation to bolster your appeal. An attorney can help you with this process.
The approval rate for reconsideration requests is usually about the same as for initial applications—about 30 percent—except now you may be able to request a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge.
Administrative Law Judge Hearing
An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is a member of the judiciary tasked with deciding Social Security Disability appeals. They have unilateral decision-making authority.
When Social Security grants you a Social Security Administrative Law Judge Disability Hearing, you will appear in front of an ALJ and make your case in person. Whereas the approval rate for initial claims and reconsideration requests are both less than 30 percent, roughly 60 percent of applicants who attend ALJ hearings receive approvals.
You are allowed to hire an attorney to help you prepare for your ALJ hearing and to represent you at the hearing itself. A veterans benefits lawyer who understands the process can tell you what to expect and assist you in collecting everything you will need to create a compelling appeal.
Call 865-566-0800 for a Free Social Security Disability Case Evaluation
If you or a loved one were denied Social Security Disability, an attorney from Disability Advantage Group can help you receive a grant of benefits on appeal. For a free consultation with a member of our team, call 865-566-0800 today.