When people in Kentucky apply for Social Security Disability benefits, many face denials, at least in the initial stages of the process. However, applicants’ need for benefits is underlined by the situations that they face when they attempt to get a job after a denial. Under the law, Social Security Disability Insurance mandates that beneficiaries must have a documented, serious medical condition that prevents them from doing any feasible job. People can be denied even if there is no indication that they will ever be able to obtain the type of job that evaluators believe they could theoretically perform.

Research conducted by Mathematica looked at people who were rejected at the initial stage of their SSD benefits application by a disability evaluator. They focused on people aged 50 or older who had sufficient years at work to be eligible for the program. In their study, they found that around half of the applicants received SSD benefits. For the denied applicants, they found that very few were able to work five years on; those who were found too disabled to return to their old job but theoretically capable of switching to other work had the worst time finding employment.

Over half of the applicants who were rejected went on to obtain some kind of Social Security benefits before their full retirement age. Some appealed their denials successfully, some filed new applications for benefits, and others chose to take early retirement despite reduced benefits. This backs up previous research that denied SSD applicants rarely return to work and often live in poverty.

People who have been rejected in the early phases of applying for Social Security Disability benefits might have greater success in an appeal before an administrative law judge. By working with a disability lawyer, people may be able to strengthen their case and assemble proper evidence to help them get the benefits they need.