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How can I make sure I am not denied a second time for Social Security Disability benefits?

It is estimated that up to 70% of applicants are denied at the disability application level for both SSDI and SSI benefits so it is not surprising that many claimants want to know what they can do to make sure they are not denied a second time either at the reconsideration or the application level (if they decide to apply again).

Do you understand why you were denied SSA Disability benefits?

The first step to helping you win benefits with a second application or appeal is to understand why you were denied. Determining the reason will help you know what needs to be done to increase your chances of winning the second time. What are some reasons you may have been denied benefits?

• You are working too much

The Social Security Administration may have denied your request for SSDI benefits because you were performing substantial gainful activity (SGA) or working at a level the Social Security Administration considers “substantial” (making $1640 for blind claimants and $1000 for non-blind claimants per month).

If you are working too much the SSA will not pull your medical records or review your medical condition. You will be denied SSDI benefits regardless of your condition. So unless you make the determination that you are too disabled to work at a substantial level and either stop working or reduce your pay under the allowable limit, you will be denied regardless of how many times you apply.

• You do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI

To qualify for SSDI you must have enough work credits to be insured by the Social Security Administration.

If you do not have sufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI you will be denied, regardless of how many times you apply. You can either attempt to return to work and earn more credits or you can see if you qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

• Your condition temporary and is not expected to last for at least 12 continuous months

The SSA does not provide short-term or temporary disability benefits. If your condition is not expected to last for 12 continuous months, you will be denied SSDI benefits.

If you were denied for this reason but you believe that the SSA is wrong, you will need to gather more medical evidence to prove that your condition is so severe that it will last for at least 12 months. Talk to your doctor or disability lawyer and discuss what additional information could be gathered to prove your condition will last for at least 12 continuous months.

• The SSA has decided you are you disabled

You must have a severe mental or physical health condition which is so serious that it does not allow you to perform substantial work for at least 12 continuous months or is expected to result in your death.

If the SSA has determined you are not disabled or that you could retrain for new work but you disagree, you can improve your chances of winning benefits a second time by providing strong supporting information and medical evidence to prove your claim. This should include detailed records, a doctor’s letter and RFC forms (residual capacity form) completed by your own doctor.

Make sure your medical records clearly state your functional capacities to work. For example, do you have difficulties standing, sitting or walking? Can you lift, pull or carry weight? Do you have difficulty getting along with others? Do you have to take multiple breaks that make it impossible to complete a 40 hour work week?

Providing this type of detailed information can help eliminate the subjective nature of the disability determination process and eliminate a wide variety of jobs that the SSA may claim that you can work.

The most important thing to do to improve your chances of winning SSDI or SSI benefits the second time you apply is to understand the process. Understand why you were denied and what information you need to provide to the SSA to help them make their disability decision.