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Why Are So Many Initial Applications for Social Security Disability Benefits Denied?

Two-thirds of those who file Social Security disability applications nationally are denied. Sacramento and other Northern California residents are equally likely to be initially found not disabled.

If you appeal the denial of your application, your odds materially improve. Over half of Social Security disability claimants who appeal will ultimately be awarded disability benefits.

Why Do Judges Award Social Security Disability Benefits So Much More Frequently Than State Agencies Do?

One large reason is that appeals give you and your Sacramento Social Security disability attorney a chance to personally present your case to an administrative law judge at a Social Security disability hearing. This judge will observe you, and hear you and your witnesses testify about your limitations. At the application level, state agency decision makers have only your file to review.

A second reason is erroneous denials. The most common single reason for an erroneous denial at the state agency level is an over-estimation of your residual functional capacity. For example, the state agency may have determined that you are capable of medium work when you are actually limited to light work.

Other common examples of erroneous reasons for denial are:

  • Your additional impairments were not considered
  • Your impairment was determined to be “not severe”
  • The state agency did not gather evidence showing that your impairment meets the Listings
  • Testing shows your educational level to be lower than your years of formal schooling
  • Your allegations of pain were not properly evaluated

The possibilities are nearly endless, so do not let the denial of your Sacramento California application for Social Security disability benefits discourage you from appealing.

Answers to Your Questions About Social Security Disability

Our website contains over 100 pages on applying for Social Security disability, appealing a denial of your application or your Request for Reconsideration, and the Social Security disability hearing. Some of the more valuable materials on this website are:

  • Tips for Applying sheds light on what the Social Security Administration seeks before awarding disability benefits.
  • For a short and visual explanation of how an administrative law judge will assess your eligibility, see our video How the Judge Determines Disability pictured above.
  • Appealing a Denial of Benefits, our free instantly-downloadable e-booklet, provides additional tips. See the upper right-hand corner of this page.
  • To understand how SSA evaluates particular impairments and obtain valuable medical opinion forms, go to our Library below and see Applying for Disability Benefits When…
  • Look at the articles in Your Disability Hearing (also in our Library below) for a detailed and practical view of your best opportunity to win benefits.

We are happy to personally answer any additional questions you have, or to assess your claim without cost or obligation. You may complete the short Claim Evaluation Form to your right or contact us at.

Free Claim Evaluation
  • We accept Social Security Disability claimants at all stages. If you are thinking about applying, have had your application denied, or have had your Request for Reconsideration denied, please answer the questions below if you would like us to review your case. An asterisk (*) indicates required fields.
How the Judge Determines Disability