Your Legal Rights at Work

Common Reasons for SSDI Denial and What You Can Do

by Lewis Hamilton

In the period of 2001 to 2010, an average of 28 percent of all the applications for Social Security disability benefits were accepted. Unfortunately for the remaining 72 percent who were denied, only an average of three percent of those who file for an appeal were actually approved. To help increase the odds that you are among those who receive benefits, it is important to understand why your application was denied and what you can do to change the outcome.

Incarceration Status

One possible reason the Social Security Administration, or SSA, can deny benefits to you is that you were incarcerated at the time that you filed your application. Even if you filed your application in anticipation of being released by the time it is reviewed, you can still be denied. However, if you are now out of prison, you can re-file for benefits. 

An application for benefits is usually not denied because you have a felony conviction. As long as your injury was not the result of a felony act, you can file an appeal and possibly have your denial overturned. 

In the event that you were injured in prison or you are not expected to be released for a period of time, you should still apply for benefits. When you apply, your earnings record is frozen. When you do apply for retirement benefits in the future, the low or no earning period you experience due to not being able to work will not impact your eligibility for benefits. 

Length of Disability

One requirement you have to meet to receive disability benefits is that you have to prove that you cannot work for at least one consecutive year. If you cannot prove this, the SSA can deny your application. The SSA will evaluate a range of documentation, including your medical records, to determine if your disability meets the length requirement. 

If the agency denied you for this reason, you have the responsibility to prove the SSA wrong. One way is to ask for a medical evaluation. During your evaluation, a doctor chosen by the SSA will evaluate your medical condition. Be truthful during the evaluation to avoid delays to your case. You can also ask your doctor to write a statement stating that your condition is expected to occur for at least one year. 

Regardless of the reason for your denial, your chances of having the denial overturned are improved with legal help. A social security attorney experienced in disability appeals can help you shape your response to the denial and file the documentation needed on your behalf.