Thousands of Pennsylvania residents with permanent or long-term disabilities apply for Social Security Disability benefits every year, and about 70% of their applications are denied. Claims are most often denied by the Social Security Administration because applicants did not provide enough medical evidence to prove that their conditions prevent them from working or earn more than the SSA’s Substantial Gainful Activity threshold. The SGA threshold for 2023 is $2,460 for blind individuals and $1,470 for non-blind individuals. However, a denial is not the end of the road because the SSA gives applicants the chance to file appeals. When appeals are filed, they are successful about half of the time.
The appeals process
When a Social Security Disability claim is denied, the SSA sends the applicant a letter that explains the reasons behind the decision and outlines the steps involved in filing an appeal. The first step in the process is submitting a request for reconsideration. If the request is accompanied by additional medical evidence or a Residual Function Capacity form completed by a doctor, the chances of approval will be much improved.
The disability hearing
When requests for reconsideration are also denied, the next step in the appeals process is a disability hearing. If you attend a disability hearing, you can expect to hear from medical and vocational experts who will advise the judge about your disability and what kind of work, if any, that you are still able to perform. You will also be given an opportunity to call witnesses and present evidence.
A long road worth taking
Government bureaucracy rarely moves quickly, and you should expect process to drag on for several months if your claim for benefits is denied by the SSA and you file an appeal. However, this is a road worth taking because appeals are successful about half of the time.