Key Considerations for the Evaluation of an Initial Social Security Disability Denial Letter

Key considerations for the evaluation of an initial Social Security disability denial letter. For a disability claimant, there is nothing more frustrating than receiving that initial denial letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) after applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  Despite this frustration, it is important for a claimant to keep this letter and to have it available to him/her when contacting a Social Security disability attorney.  When evaluating whether to take on a potential new client, our office carefully reviews a claimant’s denial letter with him/her before ultimately deciding whether we can provide representation.  This blog breaks down several key considerations found on the initial Social Security Disability denial letter and explains how each is important to our evaluation of a claim.

The first page of a claimant’s initial denial letter for SSDI or SSI contains several critical pieces of information. The upper left hand corner of the letter will contain the name of the program that the claimant applied for and will list either “Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance” or “Supplemental Security Income.” The program title gives us an idea of whether a claimant may/may not have applied for the correct program based on the information that he/she provides. The upper right hand corner of the letter will list the date on which the claim was denied. This date is important as the SSA only allows a claimant 60 days to file an appeal of a denial.

Additionally, the first page of a claimant’s letter may list “technical” reasons for the SSA’s denial. For a “Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance” claim, the SSA might indicate that the claimant does not have enough work credits. For a “Supplemental Security Income” claim, the SSA might indicate that the claimant is over the financial resource limit. In either case, the information is important for our office to know as it effectively precludes us from being able to assist a claimant.

The last page of a claimant’s denial letter, titled “Personalized Disability Explanation,” is also valuable to our evaluation. The Personalized Disability Explanation starts by listing the medical records that the SSA attempted to obtain for the claimant and indicates whether they were or were not received. This section allows us to determine if all of a claimant’s appropriate medical records were considered in the SSA’s evaluation. The next section of the Personalized Disability Explanation lists the SSA’s reasons for issuing the denial to the claimant. The language used by the SSA typically starts with “You said you became unable to work because” and then lists the claimant’s alleged medical conditions followed by reasons for the denial. This reasoning provides our office insight on whether we can assist a claimant with filing an appeal.

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Receiving an initial denial letter from the SSA for SSDI or SSI is certainly a frustrating experience for a claimant.  That being said, it is important for a claimant to remember that the letter itself contains several key pieces of information that are helpful to an attorney who evaluates his/her claim.  If you are a disability claimant and have received an initial denial letter for SSDI or SSI, we encourage you to contact our office.

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