You applied for disability and you finally received a letter from Social Security after waiting many months to hear from them. But the news are not as good as you expected:
It’s a denial letter that says, in so many words that “even though you have some impairments and these cause you discomfort, after “careful” consideration, we don’t believe you meet the definition of disability“.
To add insult to injury they add that: either “you can still work on your last occupation despite your impairments, or in the alternative, you can do something a little easier on you“.
Believe me, I have seen worse letters!
One time, I received a letter on behalf of a client that said something similar to “even though you are pretty much lying in a coffin, we still believe you can work!“ It wasn’t those exact words but pretty close!
I have seen my share of horrible letters but that one sure took the cake. It was so bad I wanted to frame it! Of course, I couldn’t for many reasons.
The good news is that in the end, the client won benefits.
You think: “How can Social Security think I can work with all these impairments?” “How can they deny me when I sent a letter from my doctor saying I can’t work?”
First of all: Breathe!!!
Second of all: Don’t take this letter personally!
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I’m going to tell you a secret and it’s a good one:
These letters are more or less canned letters! But they also serve a purpose: to weed out the “bad apples” that apply and don’t deserve benefits.
WHAT?!!! You say: “I paid into the system all these years and this is what I get, a canned letter?!!!“
Well, It’s sort of a canned letter. 75% of the language does come from a base computer “macro” letter that is used to produce the final letter. Then there are paragraphs they can use to “customize” it to your situation. To complete the final letter they add your medical conditions and your name and voilá: a nifty denial letter is ready.
Ready to cause anxiety and frustration to the reader. Ready to cause you to doubt your own assessment of your medical impairments and your inability to work.
Self-doubt sets in and Social Security is counting on that.
Social Security hopes you realize you can actually do something else and sometimes THEY ARE RIGHT (more on that below). They also hope that people will just give up because the process is “too hard”.
Understand that denying claims is one way for Social Security to save money on paying benefits.
Now, imagine if they paid benefits to everyone who asked? They would be completely broke. Well, they kinda are but that’s another story for another time.
Why am I telling you this?
I’m telling you this to make you feel better!
WHAT?!!! You ask: “Is she out of her mind?!!!! How is this going to make me feel better?”
I will tell you why:
First: back to breathing.
Second: I said not to take it personally, remember?
The first thing you need to know that even if it’s a canned letter, people win disability every day.
Even better: I can tell you that more than 80% of the people who won disability benefits received these denial letters. Sometimes more than once! (This varies from jurisdiction-check your own State, please!).
The other thing is that Social Security does this to weed out those who are not really disabled and that either want to “mooch” from the system (don’t be one of them!) or those who are nice people but just have no clue how the system works.
I will give you one example: Let’s say someone is a truck driver. That’s pretty heavy duty work, right? Going up and down the ladder. Sometimes unloading cargo, tying ropes around the truck. Also doing a lot of crouching under the truck, opening heavy doors, etc.
Now let’s say this driver has a knee problem and a bad back. This driver decides to file for disability because he says he can’t work as a truck driver anymore. He applies and gets a denial.
The denial says he can do something else.
That driver doesn’t realize that even though he can’t do truck driving anymore, he CAN actually do something else. Something a little easier. Maybe a desk job. Maybe he can supervise other drivers. It doesn’t mean he wanted to take advantage of the system but he thought his career (truck driving) was over and that’s all he knew.
A lot of people don’t know that the standard in Social Security is that to win disability you must prove that
you cannot do any jobs. None, period!
So you may not be able to do driving anymore but you can do something else. Social Security will, rightly so, deny your claim.
Now, if your impairments do prevent you from working FOREVER (in part 1 we talk about temporary claims), Then you should appeal.
Don’t feel intimidated by the fact you received a denial letter:
Consider that denial as part of the game!
That denial is an assurance that there is more to fight for. That denial weeds out the ones who can work and guarantees that only those who really deserve it will win in the end. You also should know that
Every single one of my winning clients received a denial letter!
Did they give up? NO!
Isn’t it a relief knowing that you are not crazy? And, isn’t it a relief that despite getting bad news you know there is a light at the end of the tunnel?I
Don’t give up just because of that denial letter!
A wise salesman once said: “a sale begins with the client says NO“. Use that same wisdom in your case:
You keep moving forward. Life continues and it doesn’t stop. If you give up, in a year or two you will regret not having continued with the process. Then you have to start all over and you may not qualify by then (long story for another post). Don’t give up!
To Recap: If you receive a denial letter from Social Security: Don’t hyperventilate. Don’t give up. APPEAL the denial. Don’t know how to do it? Let’s talk about the appeal process soon.
In the meantime, if you got denied you have a few options: you can appeal it online, you can call an attorney to see if he/she can take your case and appeal for you, or contact your local Social Security office to appeal.
PS: If you were denied Short and Long Term Disability, DON’T APPEAL until you talk to an attorney. Call an attorney FAST! As soon as you get denied, CALL! There are important deadlines that you need to follow. If you appeal too soon or do it yourself you may be seriously undermining your chances at getting a reversal.
This one you DO NOT WANT TO DIY!!! I repeat: DO NOT DIY A SHORT AND LONG TERM DISABILITY DENIAL. You will need an attorney for this one. I’m not kidding!! (some attorneys will not charge for a consult on STD and LTD cases-this varies) Worth a shot calling!
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If you were denied disability and you are looking to appeal with “better” evidence, I created a course about using a Residual Functional Capacity Report to add to your medical records. This is a form you can take to your doctor to complete in support of your claim. The course includes forms for physical or mental impairments and instructions on how to ask your doctor to complete them. You can take a “free sneak peek” to see if this course is for you. Click on the image below and you will be directed to the course page:
Also, if you are looking to file for disability and don’t know where to start, I created a course called the “5 Day File your Disability Claim” Guide where I teach you every step you should take to file your claim.
Simply click on the image below and it will take you directly to the course page. Take a “free sneak peek” of the first lesson to see if this course is for you.
You know the blog, now you can take one step further and learn the process of preparing and filing your claim.
Before you go:
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Until next time,