(1) Drug and/or alcohol addicts get benefits, why don’t I? As of 1996, it is not possible to receive social security disability benefits based solely on addiction. However, if someone is an active user, determination of their eligibility for benefits will depend on whether their use is “material” to their conditions. In other words, if a person’s drug or alcohol abuse is deemed to have caused or worsened their condition(s), their case will likely not win.
(2) My doctor said I was disabled and cannot work, so why did I get denied? Your doctor’s opinion on your situation is certainly a piece of your disability application. However, the Social Security Administration must determine independently whether you meet their definition of “disabled.” Sometimes a doctor believes a person is not able to work, but SSA disagrees.
(3) Everyone gets denied the first time. On average, about sixty-five to seventy percent of initial applications are denied. In states, like Ohio, that allow for a Request for Reconsideration, the denial rate is about eighty-five percent at that level. However, at the hearing level, success rates average around sixty-two percent.
(4) My friend, neighbor, relative, etc. was approved, but there is nothing wrong with them. A large number of recipients have severe conditions that others are unable to see or they do not tell others about. It is likely that they, too, had to fight or their benefits. Therefore, focus your efforts on your claim and what you can do to be successful on appeal.
(5) To appeal a denial, I just need to file a new application. A new application will most likely be denied for the same reason as the last. Historically, and statistically, most claimants are awarded only after being heard by an administrative law judge. A claim will never get that far in the process if you keep filing new applications
(6) I need to file a new application every time I am diagnosed with an additional condition. Once you have filed an application, you should let that application work its way through the application and appeals process. At each step, you are given the opportunity to inform SSA of any worsening or new conditions, making multiple applications unnecessary.
(7) I don’t need an attorney to help me with my claim. You have the right to be represented by an attorney. Statistics show that attorney representation throughout the disability process, and particularly at the hearing level, results in a higher success rate for claimants seeking disability entitlement. Our firm has been representing claimants at all levels in the disability process for over 40 years and stands ready to serve your needs at any appeal level. We work effectively and efficiently to secure the benefits to which you are entitled in an increasingly difficult and delayed system.