Most claims are denied because people file who have nowhere else to turn: perhaps their unemployment insurance has run out and they have a sore back or their blood pressure is rather high—stress from economic worries can cause a gamut of ailments—but they aren't disabled and they rarely appeal a claim. Mental impairments, including depression, are recognized as a disability, however, as long as you are 100 percent disabled and your condition is so severe that it is expected to keep you from doing any kind of work for at least 12 months, or to result in your death.
In other words, to qualify for SSD or SSI, you must prove that your disability means you can no longer perform the work you did before suffering an injury or illness, and that you cannot adjust to other types of work due to your medical condition.
A second part of eligibility to Social Security disability benefits depends on your work record. To qualify for benefits you must have worked long enough and recently enough: typically, you need to have worked five out of the last 10 years, ending in the year in which the disability occurred.
You need 60 days to appeal your claim after receiving a letter from Social Security. A claim is often denied because social security needs more information, including medical records and work history.
The most common reasons for denial are the following:
- Incorrect or Incomplete Disability Reports: This is a lengthy form that requires a lot of information. Make sure you spend enough time gathering work and medical records. An attorney can tell you whether you are missing crucial information.
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- Incorrect Statements: SSA claim forms can be confusing, and it's often difficult to determine what is being asked. A disability attorney familiar with the process can help.
You can appeal on your own and you can appeal online, but studies indicate that a higher percentage of claims are approved if you hire an experienced disability lawyer. The social security appeal process can be a quagmire, particularly for those with complex medical conditions. A lawyer who is familiar with social security disability law and knows how to prepare and present your case before SSA's appeals judges can help win your appeal.