Many Arizona residents are too disabled to work and need Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, but in two-thirds of all cases, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies their claims. If this happens to you, you have the ability to appeal the decision and make a stronger case for the benefits you need the second time around.
Why SSD Claims Are Denied
The SSA denies claims for a variety of reasons. The list below explains some of the more common elements that factor in denials and why they swing so many decisions from approval to refusal.
- You did not meet a Blue Book listing. To qualify for disability benefits, your impairment must last for at least 12 months or end in death. You must also meet a listing in the Blue Book, which is the SSA catalog of disabling impairments. While you can still qualify for benefits if you do not meet a listing, the SSA will require more details to evaluate your claim.
- Your medical evidence does not appear to suggest disability. When you apply for benefits, all the SSA has to go on is the evidence that you present. If your medical documentation does not illustrate the complete extent of your disability, the SSA may conclude that you can still do other kinds of work and deny your claim.
- You did not follow your doctor’s treatment plan. When you do not cooperate with your doctor’s treatment plan, it’s difficult for the SSA to determine whether or not your condition actually does prevent you from maintaining gainful employment, so your claim is likely to be denied.
- Your income is too high. If you make too much money (over $1,220 per month or $2,040 if you're blind), the SSA will conclude that your impairment does not prevent you from being financially self-sufficient. This cutoff point is referred to as the substantial gainful activity allowance.
Approximately 46% of Arizona claimants are approved for benefits after their first application. If you turn out to be one of the 54% who receive a denial, you will have to appeal if you want to receive the benefits you need.
Next Step: Your ODAR Office
The Office of Disability Adjudication & Review (ODAR) is responsible for scheduling and attending to disability claims appeals. Statistically, it also approves more claims as more than half of all judges who preside over appeals approve the applicant for benefits. There are 10 regional ODAR offices across the country and 169 local offices that hold the actual hearings.
When you file your appeal, you need to reach out to your closest ODAR office. In Arizona, there are three locations:
- Phoenix: Siete Square, Suite 2003737 North 7th Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85014. Phone: 1-888-748-1991
- Phoenix North: 18444 North 25th Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85023. Phone: 1-877-784-3690
- Tucson: Rio Nuevo Professional Plaza, Suite 265201 N. Bonita Ave.,Tucson, Arizona 85745. Phone: 1-888-383-8694
To request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), contact the appropriate ODAR office by calling, sending a letter, or filing the appeal application online. How long it takes to receive a response will depend on the office you deal with and its caseload. In Phoenix, the average wait time for a hearing is 20 months and case processing time averages at 630 days. In Tucson, hearing wait times are 17 months and it takes an average of 622 days for your case to be processed. Once your hearing date is confirmed, you will receive a letter from your ODAR office.
Working with an SSD Disability Attorney
Working with a Social Security Disability attorney can maximize the chances of your appeal being successful. They have a detailed knowledge of SSA policies and requirements and can help you file a compelling appeal by:
- Helping you gather medical evidence, including documents you may have missed the first time around
- Prepare you for the questions that the ALJ will ask
- Make sure everything is in order and that no important information and documents are missing
- Establishing an open line of positive communication with you and the SSA employees
Your attorney can go with you to your local SSA offices and even work with SSA representatives on your behalf. Below is a list of three SSA offices in major cities within Arizona:
- Phoenix: 250 N Seventh Ave, Phoenix, Arizona 85007
- Tucson: 88 W 38th St, Tucson, Arizona 85713
- Mesa: 702 W Jerome Avenue, Mesa, Arizona 85210
Talk To an Attorney Today
A Social Security Disability attorney can improve your chances of getting the benefits you need by helping you file a complete and correct application or representing you during an appeal of denied benefits. To contact an experienced SSD attorney and get your case or appeal on the right track, complete the free evaluation form.