Sometimes, it’s hard to know why the SSA denied your claim. We’ll explain major reasons for denied Social Security disability claims below.
Top 7 Reasons First-Time Disability Applicants Get Denied Benefits
1. You made a mistake filling out your application, which is called a “technical denial.”
This is the biggest reason the SSA turns down first-time applicants. In fact, it’s why most first-time SSD claims get denied! Technical denials can happen for any of the following reasons:
- Your handwriting is too messy to read, or you wrote in the margins/on the back of your claim form.
- You stapled some pages together before submitting your application.
- Leaving a required field blank on your paperwork.
- You wrote down the wrong phone number, email or physical mailing address. If the SSA tries to contact you by phone, mail or email and can’t get in touch, they automatically reject your claim.
If this happens to you, be sure to appeal within 60 days.
2. You haven’t worked at least 5 in the last 10 years full time while paying Social Security taxes.
Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, is the same thing as SSD benefits. People often skip over the “DI” portion of the name, but they’re missing something important. These benefits come from a federal disability insurance policy, and your job’s payroll taxes cover your monthly premiums. Once you stop working for 60 months in a row, your disability insurance coverage automatically lapses. That’s why you cannot get SSD benefits if you’ve been out of work 5 years or longer when you apply.
2. You’re still working when you apply for disability benefits.
One rule the SSA uses to decide if you’re eligible is, “Are you still working?” Wait until five months after your disability forces you to stop working before filing your claim. That’s because legally, the SSA has a mandatory five-month waiting period before the agency can pay benefits on approved claims.
3. You’re at full retirement age and can draw regular Social Security payments instead.
This is because SSDI payments automatically convert to Social Security benefits once you reach your full retirement age. Federal law bans anyone from getting both benefits at once. The SSA commonly refers to this as “double-dipping.”
4. Your doctor says you’ll improve enough to start working again in less than a year.
No matter how severe your condition is, if it won’t last at least 12 months, you won’t qualify for benefits.
5. You don’t regularly see a doctor to treat your disability (or didn’t provide medical evidence that supports your claim).
The SSA needs to see convincing proof that your disability keeps you from working, also known as “substantial gainful employment.” If you’re skipping medication or doctor’s visits because you cannot afford them, a lawyer can help you address this issue.
6. Your monthly earnings are $1,350 or more (even if you’re unemployed).
If you get more than that each month from any source (not just paychecks), then you make too much money to qualify. The SSA looks at your passive income from things like alimony checks, child support payments, dividends, earned interest or anything else. If it’s over $1,350/month, that “SGA amount” automatically gets your claim denied.
Still not sure what got your benefits application denied? Ask a lawyer to review your claim paperwork for free.
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.