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Breaking Down the SSA’s “Technical Rationale” in an SSDI Denial


Many applicants are shocked when they file a seemingly rightful claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, only to receive a denial letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA). It’s important to realize that such a response doesn’t mean you’re not disabled. The denial may be due to a lack of information, insufficient documentation, or many other reasons.

Fortunately, you’ll know exactly why your claim wasn’t approved when you review the Technical Rationale that accompanies the denial letter. You should consult with a Maryland Social Security disability lawyer who can assess the details and determine a strategy for addressing it, but it’s important to review a breakdown of the key sections of the Technical Rationale report.

Evidence Used by the SSA: This section of the document will contain citations to the different sources of evidence the SSA used to justify its decision on your claim for SSDI benefits. You may see:

  • Medical source reports, which include your medical records and information regarding any consultative examinations conducted regarding your disability;
  • Reports from hospitals, clinics, and other health care facilities; and,
  • Non-medical documentation, such as statements by family, friends, and your employer regarding your physical limitations.

Statement of Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA): One criteria of eligibility for SSDI is whether you can engage in SGA, which is defined by the SSA to be any amount of work that earns you more than a certain monetary threshold. For 2019, the SGA amounts are $1,220 for most applicants and $2,040 for blind individuals. If you’re working and making more than the applicable amount, you don’t qualify for SSDI benefits. This section of the Technical Rationale is the SSA’s findings on this topic for your situation. 

Findings of Fact: Here, the SSA will make a statement regarding the relevant evidence that was considered as part of its decision to deny your SSDI application. The point is not to summarize the information, but to pinpoint findings of fact that were pivotal in making a decision regarding your claim. It may include:

  • An assessment on the strength and sufficiency of the medical and non-medical information you provided;
  • A statement on which facts were relevant and credible; and,
  • Identification of your established date of onset, i.e., when you became disabled.

Symptom Evaluation: In this section, the Technical Rationale will focus on your statements about your symptoms and how they affect your ability to work. In addition, the SSA will include its conclusion, which is that you aren’t eligible. There will also be an explanation regarding the reasons for the assessment.

Talk to an Experienced SSDI Lawyer About Denials 

The important thing to remember when you receive a denial of SSDI benefits is that the SSA’s action doesn’t mean your claim is over. You’ll have an opportunity to respond, and you’ve got the Technical Rationale to tell you exactly how you need to correct your claim. For more information, please contact the Law Offices of Steinhardt, Siskind and Lieberman, LLC. We’re happy to schedule a consultation to discuss your claim at any of our four offices in Maryland.

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