Denied Social Security Disability and Can’t Work?
If you’re unable to work, being denied Social Security disability benefits can be alarming–especially if you were previously self-supporting or supporting dependents. Don’t panic. Most SSDI applications are denied in the first round, so if you’ve just received an initial denial, there’s still a good chance your disability benefits may be approved.
If it takes a long time to get SSDI benefits approved–or if you truly aren’t eligible–then it’s time to explore other options for earnings or assistance.
Know Why Your Social Security Disability Application Was Denied
The first step is to make sure you understand exactly why your application was denied.
You Didn’t Provide Enough Documentation
Sometimes, an application is denied simply because you didn’t provide all of the necessary information. This is more likely to happen if you file your application without assistance.
If the problem was missing information or insufficient documentation, you may be able to request reconsideration and provide additional information. The request for reconsideration is typically the quickest phase of the SSDI application and appeals process. Most denials are upheld on reconsideration, but some applications are approved on reconsideration, and supplemental information may tip the scales.
You’re Technically Ineligible
Some claims are denied for purely technical reasons, such as the applicant not having sufficient work history to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. If you truly didn’t work enough or don’t have enough recent work credits to qualify, there’s no way around that. But, mistakes do happen. If you’re denied based on work history, carefully review the records and make sure there aren’t jobs missing or underreported.
Similarly, you may not be eligible for benefits if you make enough money that the SSA considers you able to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). In this situation, you should speak with a qualified SSDI benefits advocate as soon as possible. While the ability to engage in SGA is a hard limit on SSDI eligibility, the fact that you were earning too much at the time of your application doesn’t necessarily mean that you are able to do so on an ongoing basis.
SSA Doesn’t Think You’re Medically Qualified
Sometimes the cold record isn’t sufficient to allow SSA to make the right decision about your disability. Sometimes, you just haven’t provided enough information or the right information to help them see that you are unable to engage in SGA due to your medical condition. Medical denials are frequently appealed, and a seasoned advocate can help you supplement the information you provided in your application, secure the evidence you need, and present your argument effectively on appeal.
Getting By Without SSDI
If you have to go through the full Social Security disability benefits appeals process, it may take two or three years to resolve your claim. So, you may need other resources to tide you over during that time. Similarly, if you have been through the entire process and been denied, or recognize that you truly aren’t qualified due to something like too few work credits, you’ll need an alternative plan.
Check on Whether You Have Other Disability Benefits Available
This may sound silly since you might assume that you would know if you had access to other disability benefits. Though that’s typically true, many employers provide some amount of disability insurance as a core benefit, and not all employees are familiar with the details of their benefits packages–especially those they’ve never had to use.
Several states have short-term disability programs, and your state may provide other public benefits for people who are unable to work. Make sure you fully explore your options.
Find Out Whether You Qualify for SSI
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a need-based benefit available to the elderly and disabled. If you are disabled but don’t qualify for SSDI due to insufficient work history, you may still be eligible for SSI benefits.
Explore State and Local Benefits
All state governments and some local governmental units offer some type of cash assistance, help with utilities, assistance with food and medication, and other benefits. Tracking down all of these programs can be a challenge. One good starting point is to dial 211 from wherever you are. In most areas, this will take you to a locally-focused information center where you can get information about what options may be available to you.
You may also have access to Medicaid coverage, which most people can apply for either directly with their local state human services department or through the federal Healthcare Marketplace.
Check Private Sources and Charities
There are a wide variety of organizations that may be able to help you, especially with short-term needs. These include local churches, non-profit organizations, food banks, and other charitable organizations. You should also check with medical providers, your utility provider, and others, as many offer their own programs for providing assistance or offering discounts when you’re in a financial crunch.
Don’t Give Up on SSDI Too Easily
It’s easy to get discouraged when your Social Security disability application has been denied. That’s especially true if you’re also denied on reconsideration and you know that it will likely be months before you get a response at the next stage of the appeals process. Too often, people abandon their applications at this point.
When you drop the process after an unsuccessful application or appeal, the negative decision stands. That means that if you decide to apply again later, you’ll only be able to pursue benefits from the date of that denial forward–you’ve already been deemed ineligible for the time before. You could lose out on months or years worth of benefits this way. And, if you start the application process from scratch later, chances are your initial application will be denied again. That means you may still have to wait months or years to secure your benefits.
The best course of action after a denial is to speak with an experienced disability benefits advocate to learn more about your rights and options. A knowledgeable advocate can help you avoid the mistakes that can delay approval, and help you put together the strongest possible case for benefits. To learn more about how we can help–whether you’re just preparing to apply or have already been denied–call (800) 800-3332 or contact us here.