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Denied disability by the Social Security Admnistration but I am disabled

One of the most common questions asked by disability claimants is, "How can I be denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA) if I am disabled and unable work?" How can this be possible?

There are disability decisions which are made about Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applications before a claimant’s disability application is ever sent to the Disability Determination Services office. These decisions are made at the Social Security Field Offices and they are called technical denials.

A technical denial is made for Social Security Disability Insurance applications if the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines a claimant does not meet the nonmedical requirements of the SSDI program. Specifically, the disability claimant does not have enough work credits to be considered insured by the Social Security Administration or they are working and making too much money. This type of denial simply means the claimant is ineligible due to a technical denial, and their Social Security Disability Insurance application is never sent to the Disability Determination Service Office for a medical review.

What about for Supplemental Security Income? The same thing can occur for Supplemental Security Income claimants. SSI disability applications can be denied at the Social Security Administration office if the claimant’s resources exceeds $2,000 or they are working and making more than the allowable amount (performing substantial gainful activity).

If the SSDI or SSI applicants meet the nonmedical criteria for either Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, their applications are sent to the DDS office for further review of their medical conditions. The DDS will either approve or deny the application.

Disability Decisions at the Administrative Hearing Level


The process gets a bit more complicated at the administrative hearing level. Claimants who appeal their claim and have an administrative hearing may be denied benefits or receive a partially favorable or fully favorable decision.

Claimants who receive a fully favorable decision are granted their disability benefits back to their alleged onset date or the date the claimant states their disability began. Claimants granted a partially favorable decision will receive disability benefits, but the judge has altered what he believes to be the alleged onset date (based on the claimant’s medical evidence and when the claimant could no longer perform substantial gainful activity).

Partially favorable decisions may also be granted if the administrative law judge decides that although you were disabled for a specific period of time, you are no longer disabled. This is called a closed period which is specifically defined as “the time between the onset of your disability and the time when the claimant was able to return to work.” If this time period was for more than 12 continuous months the judge will award some disability benefits but the claimant will not be eligible for monthly disability payments, only a lump sum payment for the closed period.

An administrative law judge may also decide a claimant is not disabled according to the criteria outlined for either Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance.

Hiring a Social Security Disability Lawyer


Not all disability claimants will need legal assistance but if your condition does not meet a listing on the SSA listing of impairments or if you are scheduled for a hearing before an administrative law judge, it is time to talk to a disability lawyer.
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