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Common Reasons Why Social Security Disability Applications Are Denied

Social Security Disability benefits are a critical lifeline for people who cannot work due to a disability. However, the SSDI application process can be complex, and time-consuming, and many are denied. This is problematic, mainly because applicants rely on this benefit to financially assist them in their daily living.

Below are some of the most common reasons why Social Security Disability (SSD) applications are denied:

1. Insufficient Medical Evidence

A common reason for denial is insufficient medical evidence. The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires medical evidence to support a disability claim. This evidence must document the applicant’s disability, its severity, and how it limits their ability to work.


Some examples of acceptable medical evidence that may bolster an application may include, but not limited to:


  • Medical records from healthcare providers
  • Laboratory results
  • Imaging results (X-rays, MRIs, etc.)
  • Treatment plans
  • Statements from healthcare providers about the applicant’s disability and its limitations

However, note that the SSA does not consider all medical evidence equal. For example, a doctor’s statement that an applicant is “disabled” is insufficient. The doctor must then provide specific details about the applicant’s disability and how it limits the applicant’s ability to work.

2. Prior Denials

If an applicant has previously been denied Social Security disability benefits, they have a higher chance of being rejected again. However, it is possible to be approved after a prior denial.

Applicants who have been previously denied should carefully review the SSA’s decision letter to understand the reasons for the denial and address those reasons in their new application. Seeking the assistance of a reliable disability attorney may be vital in overcoming this issue.

3. Earning Too Much

To qualify for assistance, an applicant’s earnings must be below a certain level. This level is known as the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) limit.

The SGA limit is adjusted yearly and varies depending on the applicant’s age and blindness status. In 2023, the SGA limit for non-blind applicants under age 65 is $1,350 monthly.

If an applicant’s earnings exceed the SGA limit, they will not be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, applicants may still qualify for help if they participate in a work incentive program, or their earnings are from self-employment.

4. Failure to Follow Medical Treatment Advice

If an applicant refuses to follow their doctor’s direction, the SSA may deny their disability claim. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

For example, an applicant may be able to refuse medical treatment if it is against their religious beliefs or if it is likely to cause serious side effects.

5. Failure to Cooperate with the SSA

The SSA expects applicants to cooperate with the application process. This includes providing all requested information and attending any scheduled appointments.


Suppose an applicant fails to cooperate with the SSA, their disability claim may be denied. For example, if an applicant refuses to provide their medical records or attend a consultative examination, the SSA may deny their claim.


If you or a loved one is eligible to claim Social Security Disability (SSD), you can count on us to assist you in filing your claim. At McKown and Myers, it’s our job to help Hoosiers like you get the compensation they need to get medical treatment and support their families. We’re here to answer your questions about your SSD application – call 765-668-7531 or complete our contact form here. There’s no obligation – we’re here to help.