Why can’t I collect disability when I am disabled?

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By Dr. David Hopper
Senior Disability Analyst
(702) 528-0066

Approximately 50 million Americans are disabled in some way and half of them are severely disabled, yet nearly 80% of people who apply for Social Security Disability benefits get denied.  Many people simply give up and others must turn to attorneys to handle their appeals. The primary reason for denial of Social Security Disability benefits is that the application is not filled out properly. Most people have no legal or medical training and don’t understand disability. This leaves vague and incomplete information on the application that ultimately leads to denial.

In general, a person with a disability is anyone having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. The term disability is defined more as a legal term than a medical term. Disabilities are often described as short-term or long-term depending on how long they last or are expected to last. Social Security Disability is based on permanent disability, which is generally defined as being unable to perform your previous employment tasks and responsibilities for at least a year from the time of onset of your disability.

There are many ways to qualify as someone who is disabled. Some disabilities are listed by Social Security with specific criteria in order to qualify for disability. Disabilities not listed may qualify for disability using a different set of criteria. The most important aspect of getting approved for disability benefits is to have documentation of your specific disability. This documentation should be fairly recent and there should be records from various treating doctors to show what has been done to treat your condition. It is important to show the residual effects of the disability on physical and mental functioning.

The main steps to submitting a successful application to obtain disability benefits include providing proper explanation of the condition that caused your disability, how it has impaired your ability to work, and what you are still able to do. There are no guarantees that an application for disability will be approved despite the proper guidance from a disability expert, however, your application has a significantly higher chance of being accepted the first time. If your application for disability benefits is denied, Social Security has to provide a reason for denial. It is after denial that attorneys may represent you regarding your legal rights, but it is still important to know how to document the physical and mental conditions needed to answer their reasons for denial. Following are just a couple of disability cases to illustrate how complicated the disability process can be:


            John: Everyone has the ability to do something even though they are disabled. John was a 19-year-old man who was totally paralyzed from the neck down but learned to become an outstanding painter by controlling the paintbrush with his mouth! Of course, he was unable to perform the type of work he had been trained to do and was physically unable to undergo training to learn a new career or be expected to work full-time on a regular basis, function independently, or work without full-time assistance. If you are unable to perform tasks that you are expected to perform after consideration of your age, education, and skills then, you will qualify for disability.

            Bob was a 24-year-old man who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a motor vehicle accident. He recovered from a coma and was eventually discharged home. After returning to work, he was let go because his boss said it was too dangerous for him to operate machinery safely. His basic medical and psychological evaluations did not indicate anything unusual and the only restrictions were to avoid heavy physical work. His disability case was denied. Unfortunately, his ability to think quickly, concentrate, and remember things was poor. As a result, he was not able to tell the doctors that he suffered from constant headaches, couldn’t drive an automobile due to his condition, had severe sleep problems, got lost easily, often forgot what he was doing, and other problems. Once a complete picture was presented to Social Security, his disability benefits were approved.

            Betty was a 50-year-old woman who had suffered from failed lasik surgery to correct her vision. Later surgery to try and fix her vision also failed and she was left with even worse vision. Because her condition was only described as a failed lasik surgery and her visual acuity was not severe enough to classify her as blind, her disability case was denied. When her complete medical condition was provided to Social Security, it was found that she also suffered from severe depression, anxiety, heart problems, sleep disturbance, and had other problems with her vision not reported. She was unable to drive, read books or computer screens, judge depth, which caused her to trip, fall, or hit her head. Once her complete information was properly presented, her disability claim was approved. 


Dr. Hopper is a retired Senior Disability Analyst with 35 years experience serving as a disability expert. While he cannot serve as your disability doctor, he can assist you with your application process and use his expertise to ensure that you have the necessary documentation for approval and that your treating doctors are able to provide the necessary physical and mental health information that Social Security needs for disability determination since most treating doctors are not familiar with the disability process and may not have evaluated or documented your condition in a way that will provide the needed information on your ability to perform various job-related activities.

Dr. Hopper’s years of experience and expertise in this field can be the difference between being accepted for Social Security Disability benefits or denial on the first attempt.  If you have already filed for benefits and have been denied, Dr. Hopper’s services can be the deciding factor with regard to your appeal to receive Social Security Disability benefits. He can save you many thousands of dollars and many months or even years obtaining disability benefits. Contact Dr. Hopper to set up an appointment to review your case to determine what your chances are of being approved for disability and what you will need to do in order to present your application in such a way so as to maximize your chances of being approved in the fastest and least expensive way possible.

Contact:          Dr. David Hopper, Senior Disability Analyst
                        4550 Oakey Blvd, Suite 103
                        Las Vegas, Nevada 89102
                        (702) 528-0066