Your medical condition has clearly been problematic for a while. After consulting with your doctor about it, you made the difficult decision to file for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Your doctor assured you that you had good reason to consider yourself disabled, so you’re understandably shocked and dismayed when your claim is denied.

What happens now?

First, realize that you’re not alone. Social Security has always made it difficult for people to get approved for benefits, and the rate of approval for first-time applicants has gradually decreased with time.

Second, look at your denial letter carefully. These letters often give you at least some idea (if not a clear one) why your claim was denied. Some of the most common reasons for denial include:

  • Despite your disability, you’re still working and earning enough to count as “substantial gainful activity.”
  • Your disability is severe, but there’s no indication that it will continue for more than a year.
  • Your disability is severe, but you aren’t following your doctor’s recommended course of treatment without a good reason.
  • Your medical evidence is unclear, unconvincing or has conflicting information.
  • You didn’t stay in contact with Social Security, and there were questions they needed to ask or they wanted to send you for a consultative exam.
  • Your doctor didn’t return the information Social Security requested and the agency made the decision without it.

The more clearly you can understand the reason for the denial, the easier it may be to overcome it.

Third, file your appeal. You only have a short time to do this following the receipt of your denial letter, so don’t hesitate to take action to protect your rights.

Consider getting legal assistance with your application. An experienced attorney can help you present your case in the clearest way possible and avoid gaps in information that can lead to a denial.