Applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can be a lifeline for many, yet it’s not always a smooth sailing process. A significant number of SSD claims are initially denied. Understanding why these claims get the cold shoulder from the Social Security Administration (SSA) could be the key to strengthening your application. So, let’s unravel the top reasons behind these denials and what you can do to avoid them.

Insufficient Medical Evidence

One of the fundamental reasons SSD claims face rejection is the lack of adequate medical evidence. When we file for disability benefits, we’re essentially asking the SSA to take our word that we have a condition severe enough to stop us from working. However, they won’t just take our word for it; we must prove it with substantial medical documentation.

  • Medical records that detail the diagnosis

  • Information on how the condition affects daily activities

  • Notes from treating physicians regarding the severity of the condition

  • Test results and medical imaging

Earnings Exceeding the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) Level

Another hurdle for SSD claimants is the income limit set by the SSA, known as substantial gainful activity. We might think that a few hours of work here and there won’t hurt our claim, but if our earnings are above a certain threshold, our claim could be denied. This level changes yearly, so check the latest figures before filing your claim.

Failure to Follow Prescribed Therapy

If our doctors prescribe treatments to help manage our condition, the SSA expects us to follow through with them. If we don’t, we might find our SSD claim denied for non-compliance. There are, of course, valid reasons for not following prescribed therapy, such as severe side effects or financial constraints, but these must be communicated effectively to the SSA.

Short Duration of Disability

The duration of our disability matters when it comes to securing SSD benefits. The rule of thumb is that the disability should be expected to last at least 12 months or result in death. Our claim might be denied if our condition is considered short-term or likely to improve within a year.

Failure to Cooperate with the SSA

The SSD application process is collaborative. We need to comply if the SSA requests additional information or appointments with their doctors. Failing to respond to their inquiries or missing scheduled exams can lead to denial.

Lack of Contact Information

Keeping our contact details up to date is not a big deal, but for the SSA, it’s crucial. If they can’t reach us, they can’t process our claim. Always ensure our contact information is current, and check our mail regularly for any correspondence from the SSA.

Previous Denials

If we’ve been denied before and submit a new application without new evidence or having addressed the reasons for the previous denial, the fog of reconsideration doesn’t lift easily. A better approach is to appeal the decision rather than start afresh.

Non-Severe Conditions

The SSA doesn’t deny claims lightly. They look for evidence of severe impairments that interfere significantly with work-related activities. If our condition doesn’t meet their criteria of ‘severe,’ we might have to explore other support systems.

Issues Around Felony Convictions

It’s worth noting that if our disability resulted from a felony conviction or if we became disabled while in prison, our SSD claim could be in jeopardy. The rules around this are complex, so seeking advice is a wise move if this applies.

Understanding Neurological Disorders and SSD Claims

Regarding neurological disorders, the implications for our daily lives and work capacities can be profound. For those of us grappling with such challenges, seeking disability benefits is not about giving up; it’s about acknowledging that our bodies and brains need different kinds of support. That’s why finding an attorney for disability due to neurological disorder is crucial. These professionals understand the nuances of neurological conditions and can help represent our case with the empathy and expertise it requires.

The Role of Back Injury Advocates

Back injuries can hinder even the strongest among us, limiting our work and basic daily movements. When workplace injuries or other accidents leave us in persistent pain, the assistance of an advocate is invaluable. Finding a good back injury attorney is worth the time and effort. They stand in our corner, helping advance our claims and ensuring we get the right compensation and benefits needed to manage our back injuries.

The Process Itself is a Challenge

Navigating the SSD claims process is often compared to running a marathon — it’s long and exhausting, and persistence is vital. The complexity of the process means that simple, avoidable mistakes can lead to denials. Here’s where knowledgeable attorneys and advocates step in, offering us a roadmap and support through this marathon.

  • Understanding the eligibility criteria

  • Filling out the application thoroughly

  • Keeping track of deadlines and submissions

  • Prepping for potential appeals

Dealing with Severe Headaches

Among disabling conditions, severe headaches, particularly chronic migraines, are often underestimated. But anyone who’s ever had a migraine knows it’s far more than a headache. If we’re dealing with this incapacitating condition and its impact on our work life, claiming social security disability for chronic migraines might be our best course of action. The debilitating nature of our migraines must be well documented and presented with our claim.


Dealing with a disability and facing an SSD claim denial is a double whammy of stress and frustration. But armed with knowledge of what causes denials and with the proper support, we can enhance our chances of approval. Remember to keep detailed medical records, adhere to prescribed treatments, and understand the SSA’s ‘severe’ condition criteria. 

Keep an open line of communication with the SSA, and don’t hesitate to seek an attorney’s or advocate’s expertise if needed. We’re not alone in this process; with the right approach, we’ve got a fighting chance to secure the benefits we deserve.