Social Security disability benefits decisions are often not fair. If you are seeking benefits for the first time right now, you should know that the SSA makes incorrect denial decisions every day. And they are carried out without them knowing of all the relevant facts in claims. You may, in fact, already know this at a personal level if you are working on your second or even third denial.
The Typical Injury Situation
Consider this all too common situation… You can be denied Social Security Disability benefits even after you’ve been unable to continue working due to an injury or impairment. For years, you’ve been grinding away at work, self-medicating a bad back, or crushing anxiety. Slowly, over time, you have found yourself approaching a wall. A barrier as real as any physical wall, to your ability to cope and “work through it.” Although willing, you’re not able to actually work through your injury anymore.
How does the Social Security Administration view this? In some cases, the stars line up, and an adjudicator recognizes your employment barriers. They take this into account with respect to the breadth of your work history. In many other cases, your utter tenacity in seeking to stay employed as long as possible seemingly works against you. The adjudicator views your claim like this. Every day you fought through injury to stay employed is another piece of evidence that shows you can work, despite them.
The Frustrating Reality
This unfair reality is doubly frustrating! You are now in the hopper to wait up to two years for your day in court. You just want to let everyone know; this is silly, this whole situation has been turned on its ear! The grim truth is, you are one of over 950,000 claimants seeking to make this whole situation make sense. And Social Security is not going to change for you unless you fight to make them.
It should come as no surprise that attorneys are often involved at this point. The SSA often forgets the human side of disability benefits (see video below). There are many different ways this process plays out for someone who is both working and disabled. But too often it works against the claimant. Having an experienced, educated, and empathetic attorney on your side to help appeal a wrong decision is the best way to make your case to the ALJ (judge).
Here is a link to the SSA workbook on various issues and programs about working while disabled.
In the meantime, Contact me for a short discussion on how to make sense of this.