Nearly 70% of the people who apply for Social Security Disability benefits are denied the first time, so if it happens to you, you are not alone in your situation. You also have the opportunity to appeal the Social Security Administration (SSA) decision and make a better, stronger case for benefits the second time around.
Why SSD Claims Are Denied
Every disability applicant’s situation is unique, and so are the reasons for denying their claim. There are, however, situations that contribute to the majority of denials. They are listed below, along with the reasons why they are grounds for refusal.
- Your application is incomplete. When you apply for disability benefits, you need to produce a mountain of paperwork related to your medical history, work history, income, and more. If your application package is missing key documents that the SSA needs to make a decision, you may be denied.
- Your case is not supported by medical evidence. SSD benefits are intended for people whose physical or mental conditions are so disabling that they cannot work enough to support themselves and their families. If the medical evidence you submit with your application does not suggest that you are disabled to such an extent, your claim will be denied.
- You did not follow your doctor’s treatment plan. Disability benefits are intended for those who remain unable to work despite treatment. When your doctor recommends a course of treatment that can improve your condition and you fail to follow it, the SSA will conclude that you have no interest in improving your situation and deny your claim.
- You make too much money. SSD benefits are intended to support those who are unable to earn a high enough income to support themselves. If you are earning over $1,260 per month ($2,110 if you're blind), you will be deemed self-sufficient enough for your claim to be denied.
Alaska’s approval rate for initial claims is the lowest in the entire country at 17%. It is also significantly lower than the national average, which is around 30%. It appears that Alaska claimants have to appeal more often than not if they want to receive the benefits they need.
Next Step: Your ODAR Office
The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) reviews Social Security Disability claims which have been denied. It consists of 169 hearing offices and 10 regional offices. When you intend to appeal a claim denial, you will have to contact your closest ODAR office. There is one location in Alaska at 188 W Northern Lights Blvd., 6th Floor in Anchorage.
To request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), visit the address above or call 907-271-6285. If you live in a remote location or would have difficulty visiting the Anchorage office, you also have the option of sending a letter or filing your appeal via the SSA website.
In Alaska, the average wait time for a hearing is 13 months and case processing time averages at 494 days. Once you have a confirmed hearing date, the Anchorage office will send you a letter containing the particulars, so you know where you have to be and when.
Working with an SSD Disability Attorney
When you hire an SSD Disability attorney to assist you with filing an appeal, your chances of being approved the second time around increase significantly. Although people can and do succeed with an appeal on their own, statistics suggest that applicants represented by an attorney are more likely to be approved than one who is not.
A Social Security Disability attorney will understand how to present your case in the most favorable light. They can also:
- Help you present the medical evidence proving that you meet a listed condition in the SSA Blue Book
- Prepare a detailed brief for the ALJ
- Prepare you for the questions that the ALJ will ask
- Question the medical expert or vocational expert at the hearing to demonstrate your inability to work
If you cannot go to your closest SSA office for any reason, you can authorize your attorney to act on your behalf. The three SSA offices below serve the greater percentage of disability applicants in Alaska.
- Anchorage: 222 W 8th Ave, Anchorage, Alaska 99513
- Fairbanks: 101 12th Avenue, Fairbanks, Alaska 99701
- Juneau: 709 W 9th St. Room 231, Juneau, Alaska 99802
Talk To an Attorney Today
A Social Security Disability attorney can assist you from initial application to an appeal in the federal court system if it reaches that point. They will help you build your medical case and advocate for you at the appeals hearing, which is where the majority of appeals take place. To contact an SSD attorney and get your application on stronger ground, complete the free evaluation form.