frustrated woman in wheelchair reading official document

Why Was My Disability Application Denied?

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

While you may dread a denial of your initial disability benefits application, it is a reality to say that this is what most people can expect. The vast majority of initial benefit claims are denied and reconsiderations, which is the initial step of the appeals process, are denied at an even greater rate, although many more people have greater success at higher levels in the appeals process. After all of the work and worry you may have put into your application, you are most likely wondering, why are disability applications denied so frequently? Here, we will discuss how you find out why your disability application was denied and some of the more common reasons for denials.

Why Was My Disability Application Denied?

Should your disability benefits application be denied, you will receive a notice of denial from the SSA. Within the denial letter will be several things, including:

  • A description of your medical condition
  • A detailing of the impairments that were considered
  • A list of both medical and nonmedical records that were weighed in rendering a decision on your application
  • An explanation as to why your application was denied

Some denial letters will also include the technical rationale for the denial. The technical rationale is a detailed explanation of why an application was denied which will usually include a discussion of the applicants’ medical issues as well as the applicant’s residual functional capacity (RFC), and past employment. Should your denial letter fail to include the technical rationale, you can request it from the SSA in order to review it.

In requesting your file from the SSA, they may send you Form SSA-4268: Explanation of Determination. This will include the technical rationale reached by the Disability Determination Services claims examiner in rendering the decision for the denial of your application. Alternatively, the technical rationale may be contained in attached Form SSA-831.

The technical rationale will provide you with a detailed outline regarding the steps the claims examiner took that led to the denial of your application. While it may be difficult to understand due to being inundated with technical language and being dense in content, it can still be well worth reviewing and can help you prepare for appealing your application’s denial.

The technical rationale description will usually detail the following:

  • The symptoms of your condition
  • Whether your listed impairments substantiate a listing’s requirements
  • Your RFC
  • The exertional level and skills required by your past jobs
  • Whether your limitations would prevent you from engaging in your past work
  • Whether, in light of your vocational factors such as age, education, and experience, you should be able to do other work, and should this be the case
  • What other type of work may be suitable for you

You may be able to discern from the description of what is contained in the technical rationale as to what exactly are some of the most common reasons for denials. For instance, it may have been determined that you are still able to engage in past work or there may be other work that you can still engage in. Alternatively, many are denied because they failed to follow therapy prescribed by their treating doctors. If you have the ability to comply with a doctor’s prescribed therapy, the SSA expects you to do so and can deny disability benefits should you fail to do so.

Los Angeles Disability Attorney

Has your disability benefits application been denied? Do not lose hope! Disability Advocates is here to help. Contact us today.

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts is the managing attorney for Disability Advocates Group. She opened Disability Advocates Group to assist individuals who became disabled and unable to work to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.  Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.