Social Security claims typically undergo a review at the local Social Security Administration offices before they're sent to actual disability claims examiners. This is to ensure applicants meet the minimum non-medical requirements for benefits before the Social Security Administration spends any more time handling their cases. If you don't meet the non-medical requirements, you'll receive a technical denial. Here are two reasons why this may occur and what you can do to overcome them.
You Make Too Much Money
One of the most common reasons people receive technical denials is because they make too much money. The Social Security Administration (SSA) limits the amount of money beneficiaries can make and still receive benefits, and the max amount varies depending on which program you're applying for.
Those applying for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) can make a maximum of $1,170 from substantial gainful employment, while those who want to get SSI (Social Security Insurance) can't receive more than $735 per month. Thus, if you report income higher than those limits, your application will automatically be denied.
However, it's possible to overcome this issue by carefully reading the programs' requirements and making the appropriate adjustments to your application. Each program calculates income differently, and some types of money may be excluded from the calculation.
For instance, SSDI does not count unearned income (e.g., money from investments or a spouse's income) towards the limit. So, if you included money from these sources as part of your income, you can subtract it and resubmit your application.
You can find information about the SSA's income limits online, though it's best to consult with an attorney who can help you maximize your chances of getting approved.
You Didn't Work Enough
Another reason you may receive a technical denial is that you either didn't work long enough or recently enough. The money you receive from SSDI is based on the contributions you made to the Social Security fund during your working years. If you haven't worked long enough to contribute a sufficient amount of money (called credits), then you'll be denied.
For instance, if you are 44 years old, you must have a minimum of 22 work credits (the equivalent of working 5.5 years) in order to qualify for benefits. If you don't have enough credits on file, you won't receive any disability benefits.
In addition to having a minimum amount of work credits, you must also have worked at least 50 percent of the previous ten years before you became disabled (or at least have worked half the time since turning 21 if you're under the age of 31). If you don't have the time on record, you'll receive a technical denial.
The agency does make an exception for blind applicants. Unfortunately, this particular requirement cannot be overcome if you didn't work the requisite amount of years. However, if you did work and the SSA is calculating your time wrong, you can submit evidence of your previous employment (e.g., W-2s, tax returns) to set the record straight.
For more information about social security appeals or help with your case, contact an attorney.