My Doctor Says I’m Disabled, So Why Was I Denied Social Security Disability Benefits?

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Posted by Corey Luedeman

If you have recently been to your doctor and they said you are disabled, you may have believed it would be easy to get Social Security Disability benefits.  However, your initial application was denied.  Why would this happen?

The Social Security Administration and Your Doctor Define “Disabled” Differently

Your doctor and the Social Security Administration (SSA) likely define the word “disabled” in different ways.  Let’s talk about those differences and how they affect your Social Security disability claim in Iowa.

It’s likely your doctor defines “disabled” as you being unable to do the job you currently do.  You may have been told that you can’t return to work because of your medical condition.

The Social Security Administration’s Definition of ‘Disabled’

The Social Security Administration has a very strict definition of the word “disabled.”  When the SSA says you must be “disabled” to get benefits, they mean you must have a severe medical impairment(s) that both:

  • Prevent you from doing the work you used to do, AND
  • Prevent you from doing any other type of work.

This second point is a key difference between your doctor’s opinion and the SSA’s rulings.  For example, your doctor and the SSA may agree that you can no longer do construction work.  However, the SSA may say that you are still medically able to do office work.  If that is the case, you can be denied benefits because they believe you can still do some type of work.  Whether or not you will be denied depends upon your physical and mental abilities, your work over the past 15 years, your age, and education.

While your doctor’s medical opinion is taken into consideration, it is not the doctor’s decision as to whether you receive disability benefits.  In fact, if a doctor submits a letter to the SSA that says “My patient is disabled,” that letter is not going to be helpful in your claim for Social Security Disability benefits.  That decision is made either by an Administrative Law judge or a Social Security claims examiner.  A claims examiner is a trained professional who looks over each claim at the initial application stage and at the reconsideration level of appeal.

Most Initial Disability Applications are Denied

More than 60% of initial applications for disability benefits are denied, so don’t be discouraged if your claim is one of them.  Remember, just because the examiner did not agree you were disabled doesn’t mean that you aren’t qualified to receive benefits. It only means the evidence in your initial application was not present for the examiner to rule that you are disabled.

After your initial denial, it makes sense to get an experienced Social Security Disability attorney involved with your case.  An Iowa disability lawyer can track down important medical records that the Social Security Administration may not have.

If your Social Security application was denied, call our office today at 1-319-774-1542, or download your free copy of the Law Guide to Iowa Social Security Disability Claims for more information.

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