Around 70% of disability applicants in the US are denied when they file their first application. While some people truly don't qualify for disability benefits, many are denied due to a misunderstanding of the rules for the application process and demonstrating need. If you're considering applying for disability benefits, here are a few unexpected reasons your claim might be denied.
Income Limitations Apply Before Your Benefits Are Approved
Recipients of disability benefits are expected to be unable to sustain a level of income referred to as standard gainful activity. This standard actually applies before you qualify for benefits, and exceeding it may disqualify you during the application process.
For example, having to reduce your work hours from full time to part time won't net you benefits on its own. You also need to make less than the limit for your type of potential social security benefits, which can be as low as $1090 in pre-tax income per month. Even if your earnings have significantly decreased as a result of your disability, you won't be approved for benefits unless your income is below this point.
In some cases, even that metric has exceptions. For example, if your earnings are less than the limit but you regularly perform work for free which you could easily do for a wage, you may also be disqualified. So if you do volunteer work, you're still capable of making the going rate for a similar position, as far as officials are concerned.
Not Doing What Your Doctor Says Could Get You Denied
Applicants for social security disability benefits are expected to do their level best to improve their condition and maintain gainful employment. A large part of this requirement is that you must follow your doctor's instructions to the letter. Failure to take medications on time, show up to therapy appointments, or receive appropriate medical treatment for your condition may make you come off as uncooperative and jeopardize your application and result in being denied benefits.
Fortunately, even if you are denied on your first pass, there are plenty of ways to justify missed appointments or not following doctors' orders when you get to your appeal case. The most obvious valid excuse is that you are physically or mentally incapable of holding up your end of treatment without assistance. Other common reasons for a refusal of treatment that the government considered valid are religious objections, severe fear of surgery, and disagreement among treating physicians as to a particular treatment's efficacy.
Financial barriers to treatment can also be explained during your appeal, which typically results in a more favorable response. If you were unable to attend therapy or take medications because you could not afford to pay the associated medical bills, your disability application will be able to proceed.
Some Disabilities Actually Don't Qualify
You might think any condition or injury which disables you and reduces your ability to work would be covered by government benefits, but there are actually many conditions that are exempted from coverage.
Primarily, qualifying conditions are either extended in duration or life-threatening. Terminal cancer, for example, would be covered, as would a disabling injury which will take more than 12 months to heal. Severe injuries that will heal within 12 months won't qualify you for assistance, however, and neither will less serious ailments that last for years but don't significantly impair your ability to work.
Even if your initial application for disability benefits is denied, don't lose hope. Many applicants who appeal their cases go on to have the denial overturned. With a good social security lawyer and a full understanding of the requirements for the common pitfalls that tend to snare applicants, you should be able to press on and get the help you need. For more information, contact a denied social security disability lawyer.