My doctor says I am disabled, so why was I denied Social Security disability benefits?

By / Appealing If Your Application for Disability Is Denied / 142 Comments

Learn why you were denied Social Security Disability when your doctor said you were disabled and see how an attorney can help you win your appeal.

Reasons Why Social Security and Your Doctor Could Disagree
There are several reasons why you could be denied disability by Social Security. First, there is the chance that you are not disabled as defined by Social Security. “Disability” means different things to different people, even to different medical professionals. When it comes to getting disability payments, the only definition that counts is the one used by the paying organization. This means that to get Social Security Disability you must meet Social Security’s definition of disability, which is fairly strict. It requires that you be unable to earn “substantial earnings” in any occupation you have done in the past and in any other occupation you could reasonably perform. In 2020, “substantial earnings” for the blind is generally $2,110.00 monthly in gross wages or net self-employment. For all others it is generally $1,260.00. Additionally, to be eligible, your disability has to continue or be expected to continue for twelve months or more.

On the other hand, you may in fact be disabled by Social Security Disability rules. In this circumstance, your claim may have been denied because your doctor did not sufficiently explain your condition and how it affects your ability to work. Many doctors are rushed and hurry through their reports to Social Security. Others are not aware of all the factors they should be explaining or don’t explain them in language that the claims examiner recognizes as meeting Social Security’s criteria.

In some cases, you may not have clearly described all the physical and mental requirements of jobs you have done in the past, so that Social Security thinks your past work was less demanding than it was.

Appealing a Social Security Disability Denial
If you and possibly your doctor believe that you do meet Social Security Disability requirements after being denied disability, then it’s time to appeal. A good Social Security lawyer can talk with your doctor to obtain an appropriate follow-up report and perhaps additional records to support your appeal and/or can assist you in accurately representing your past work or in making any other necessary argument for your appeal.

For information about the Social Security disability appeals process and about filing a Social Security Request for Reconsideration, see our articles “What Is a Social Security Request for Reconsideration?” and “I Was Denied Social Security Disability. What Can I do?” For more information about attorney representation, visit our articles “How Can a Social Security Disability Lawyer Help Me Get Social Security Benefits?” and “How Do Social Security Disability Attorneys Get Paid for Representing You in Your Disability Claim?”

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