It’s no secret that the majority of social security disability applications are initially denied. The chances of approval do not improve on appeal. Statistics show that approximately 65% of all claims are denied when first made and the denial rate for appeals is about 85%. With these rates, avoiding common mistakes in filing a social security disability claim is crucial. This article will touch on some of the most common errors that lead to claim denial. However, you should seek the advice of a social security disability attorney before filing your initial claim, if you want to better your odds.
Do not collect unemployment while your application is pending
The reason it is not a good idea to collect unemployment is because these two benefits create a very unfavorable conflict. When you file for Social Security disability, you are stating that you have been unable (or anticipate being unable) to perform substantial work activity for twelve months, due to a mental and/or physical impairment. However, when you file for unemployment, you are stating you are ready and available to work should you be able to find a job that fits your work skills. In most states it is required that you are ready and able to perform full-time work in order to be eligible to collect unemployment benefits. These two statements conflict on a very basic level. Collecting unemployment can clearly jeopardize your disability application.
Do not continue working while your application is pending
Similar to collecting unemployment, it is not wise to continue working, while you are claiming you have a disability that prevents you from working. You need to either quit your job altogether, or work very few hours, in order to be considered for disability benefits. This is where the SGA (substantial gainful activity) becomes important. Each year, Social Security determines the amount that constitutes substantial gainful activity. If you earn more than that amount, your claim will likely be denied. In 2015, the SGA is $1,090 for non-blind disabled applicants, and $1,820 for blind applicants.
Always monitor the status of your application
After you have submitted your application for Social Security disability, your job is not over. You need to continue to check the status of your claim regularly. Why? Because there is always a chance that your paperwork could be misplaced, slip through the cracks so to speak, or the agency may neglect to inform you that your claim has been denied. Without knowing the status of your claim, you could be waiting around for nothing, only to find out later, some action was needed, or your claim had already been denied.
Do not miss your disability appeal deadline
Deadlines are always very important, and they are always a basis for denying an application or a reconsideration of your application. The deadline for requesting a disability hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ) is 60 days from the date your disability claim was last denied. This date will typically be stamped on the first page of the denial letter (or notice of denial after a reconsideration). If you fail to timely request a hearing you will have to start the whole process over from the very beginning. The only other option is to demonstrate “good cause” for requesting a hearing after the deadline has passed, if you have one.
If you have questions regarding social security disability denials, or any other social security disability issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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