It is no secret that the acceptance rate for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) has been decreasing steadily for the last 15 years. In 2001, the award rate for SSDI was 46%. By 2006, the award rate had dropped all the way to 38%, and by the end of 2015, less than one third – just 32% – of all applications were awarded benefits. At the same time, the number of benefits being terminated has increased each year since 2011. So how can you make sure your claim is accepted? Here are 7 common mistakes to avoid that will help ensure you get the awards benefit you deserve.
- Too much income: Individuals who are currently making over $1,130 per month in income will not be eligible to collect SSDI. However, this limit does not apply to unearned income, such as investments, interest, or any other household income not earned directly by the individual applying for disability.
- Temporary disability: Any disability that is not expected to impact the applicant’s ability to work for at least 12 months will automatically be denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
- The SSA was unable to reach you: Although it may sound obvious, it is important that the contact information on your application is accurate, and that you respond to any and all efforts from the SSA to reach you. Many SSDI claims are denied every month because the SSA is unable to contact the applicant.
- Technical rationale: This means that the applicant may be qualified to perform alternative duties and functions to maintain employment in some other role. This is typically referred to as residual functional capacity (RFC). If the SSA determines that your RFC does not prevent you from performing the necessary tasks for certain jobs – i.e., clerical data entry – you may be denied SSDI benefits.
- Place of residence: Believe it or not, where you live matters. Sometimes the reason for an SSDI award or denial can be as simple as the presiding judge. In certain areas or jurisdictions, the person deciding the case may be very lenient or very strict. Therefore, two people facing otherwise very similar circumstances may end up with very different judgements.
- Not complying with SSA requests: Sometimes a SSDI application may need additional documentation or medical records to support the claim. If the SSA contacts you about missing information, or asks that you submit additional forms, it is important that you follow up as quickly as possible. Failing to comply with such a request will almost always result in a denial.
- Application errors: Perhaps the most common reason why an application is denied is because it contains errors. Even a small error can cause the SSDI application to be denied. It is important to make sure you take the time to read the application entirely, fill it out to completion, and double check for any mistakes or omissions.
Of course, if your claim is denied, that does not mean the fight is over. Too many people who receive a denial just give up. However, over 65% of the people who file for an appeal and get a hearing are awarded benefits. But perhaps the most important thing you can do to make sure your claim is approved is to get help before you apply. You don’t have to go through the process alone, and finding the right guidance can be the difference between a quick approval or a lengthy battle.