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SSA Disability how can I be denied because my condition is not severe enough

Why did the SSA deny me SSA disability benefits?


Over 75% of disability applicants are denied Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) at the application level. There are a variety of reasons a claimant can be denied SSA disability benefits. For instance, the claimant is working too much or making too much money, they do not have enough work credits for SSDI, their condition will not last 12 continuous months or their condition is not considered severe and the SSA believes they could either continue to work their current job or retrain for new work.



Recently on our disability forum we had a user ask, “I was denied SSA disability benefits eight years ago because they said my condition was not severe and I could work, but now I also have lower back pain which has lowered my ability to work a sedentary job. Can I apply again?”

What does it mean to have a severe condition?


When evaluating the severity of a condition the SSA will first consider whether it will last at least 12 continuous months. Although you may be severely disabled now if you are in a car accident, for instance, it is likely that one year from now you could be able to work and the SSA will consider you not disabled.

Next the SSA will evaluate whether you can work. This is difficult for many claimants to understand but regardless of your condition, if you can work your condition is considered not severe and you are considered not disabled and you will be denied SSA disability benefits. Am I saying that you could have cancer and not be considered disabled? Yes, if your cancer is in remission or you are able to continue to do some type of job it is likely the SSA would deny your SSDI or SSI claim.

What is work and why does it keep me from getting SSA Disability?


Next, it’s important to understand what the SSA terms work. Work is defined as substantial gainful activity. It is activity that can be either substantial or gainful or both.

Do you have to make money to be considered “working”? No, because you could be volunteering for 40 hours per week and making little profit but the effort you are expending is similar to what you would expend at a paying job and the SSA will say that you could also be working for profit.

What if I have additional conditions that I did not have years ago, can I get SSA disability benefits?


To get back to the claimant’s question. It is likely when the applicant applied for disability benefits years ago the SSA believed the claimant could retrain for work that was less strenuous then what they were doing.  The SSA believes if you are educated and less than 55 if your condition does not meet or exceed a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments you can retrain for new work.

What does this mean? It means if you are performing work the SSA considers heavy work but you can no longer do heavy work they will expect you to get new training and find a job that is either moderate, light or sedentary.

But if you now have additional symptoms which make it impossible to perform sedentary work, for instance your back condition makes it impossible to sit for an extended period of time, you may be able to convince the SSA you are now disabled and you should receive SSA disability benefits.