Every year, more than 2 million Americans apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Of all first-time applicants, more than 700,000 are deemed technically ineligible and immediately denied.

If you are applying for benefits, you can reduce your chances of being denied by knowing more about the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) eligibility process. Here are some of the major reasons SSD claims are denied:

  • Applicants haven’t worked long enough: In order to qualify, you must have worked long enough and recently enough to have built up an adequate work history. Generally, this means you must have acquired at least 40 work credits throughout your life, 20 of which you earned in the last ten years before becoming disabled. (One work credit is generally equivalent to three months of work. You can earn a maximum of four per year.) Younger workers may qualify with fewer credits, depending upon the age at which they became disabled.
  • They don’t meet the SSA’s definition of disabled: You may know you are disabled and unable to hold steady employment, but you must meet the SSA’s definition of disability before being approved. This means your disability must be severe enough to prevent you from doing your job or adjusting to other work, and it must have lasted or be expected to last at least 12 months, or be expected to result in death.
  • They lack documentation: Medical documentation is a necessary element of a successful SSD claim. Without diagnostic tests proving your ability, the SSA has nothing by which to judge the validity of your claim. This is why it is so important to get treatment for your disability and to follow your doctor’s orders.

By carefully planning, you can give yourself the best possible chance of obtaining eligibility for the benefits you need. An experienced disability attorney provide you with guidance that makes the qualification process easier and more successful for you.