There are a variety of reasons your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application can be denied. Recently on our disability forum we had a disability applicant pose a question, “If my case was denied because the SSA claims I am not disabled enough, can a disability lawyer help me win my SSDI or SSI case?”
Why would the SSA state my claim is not severe enough to get SSDI or SSI?
If the SSA claims that your condition is not severe enough to win SSDI or SSI what they are saying is that you have the residual capacity to perform work, despite your condition. They may believe you can still perform your current job or they may admit that although you cannot perform heavy work, for instance, you can retrain for new, lighter work.
This type of denial is very common, and claimants seldom understand what they need to do to prove that they cannot work their current job nor can they retrain for new work.
How do I prove I cannot work a new job and I should get SSDI or SSI?
To prove you cannot retrain for new work you first must understand how the SSA classifies “work.” This is done by what the SSA terms exertional work levels: sedentary, light, medium, and heavy.
For each of these classifications there is a specific amount of time the SSA believes a claimant should be able to perform specific tasks. For instance, if they believe you can perform sedentary work they will expect you to be able to carry and lift 10 pounds or less, stand or sit for less than 2 hours within an 8 hour work day and alternate between sitting and standing. Applicants who are young and have a high educational level will have difficulty proving that they cannot train and perform sedentary work.
The Second classification is light work. This is a step up from sedentary in the amount of effort it will take. For instance, you will sit for no more than 2 hours, stand up to 6 hours and lift up to 20 pounds. This type of work includes a store cashier or grocery store stocker.
Medium and heavy work require even more effort, including lifting more weight and standing more than sitting.
If the SSA said that you can retrain for new work, which in essence means your condition is not severe enough to be considered disabled and win SSDI or SSI, you will have to prove, through medical evidence, that you do not have the ability to work. Let’s review how a disability lawyer would help you prove this.
What does a disability lawyer do?
The primary benefit of hiring a disability lawyer occurs at the hearing level. At this level the disability lawyer will review your medical records and determine what was missing or what information should be obtained to improve your case.
If necessary, the disability lawyer will contact your doctor or potentially send you to another doctor to get more specific information about your functional limitations to work.
Disability lawyers also understand the work classifications used by the SSA and will know how to argue that you cannot perform certain types of work.