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I have a number of health problems and disabilities but for some reason do not get approved for social security How can this be?

Valparaiso, IN |

A friend of mine says it's because I'm not an African American. I pretty much refuse to believe this, but am beginning to wonder as I've been denied twice already with an appeal opened up.
I have the following:
-Ruptured Thoracic & Lumbar disks
-Bi-Polar 1 Disorder
-Post traumatic stress Disorder
-Adult Attention Deficit Disorder
-Sleep Apnea

I had been successful the past 15 Years but do to illness am no longer and have since lost my house and everything that I own for the most part. I know of people that have nowhere near the magnitude the problems I suffer from and they have been approved. I have no insurance and can barley afford my medications. What gives?

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer

My colleague is correct. Your claim being denied has nothing to due with race, and has nothing to do with how bad (or not so bad) the problems are with other people. I also concur that the single biggest factor could be having a good attorney.

You may want to talk to an attorney in your area so you can review the specific facts with counsel. If you do not have an attorney, there are a number of good attorneys in your area, some of whom you can find here on Avvo. You may also contact your local city, county or state bar association to see if they have a lawyer referral program, or you may contact the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) for the name and email address or telephone number of attorneys in your area. The telephone number for the lawyer referral service of NOSSCR is 1-800-431-2804. NOSSCR's website is

In addition, you can find a Board certified specialist in Social Security by contacting the National Board of Trial Advocacy. They evaluate lawyers (independently) in many types of claims and require extensive experience and testing before a lawyer is certified. They have a section specifically for Social Security: The National Board of Social Security Disability Advocacy, Divisions of the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification.

Their link is:

You may also contact NADR (National Association of Disability Representatives) – automated Telephone Referral System at 1-800-747-6131.

Most attorneys who do any amount of Social Security work are members of NOSSCR and provide a free initial consultation. In any event, no attorney may charge a fee for work on a social security claim until it has been approved by Social Security. The fee limit is a maximum of 25% of past due or back due benefits you are owed, and many lawyers charge less than the full 25%, and the money is not paid until your claim has been approved.

I hope this information helps. Good luck to you!
Please remember to designate a best answer to your question.

The exact answers to questions like this require more information than presented. The answer(s) provided should be considered general information. The information provided by this is general advice, and is not legal advice. Viewing this information is not intended to create, and does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. It is intended to educate the reader and a more definite answer should be based on a consultation with a lawyer. You should not take any action that might affect your claim without first seeking the professional opinion of an attorney. You should consult an attorney who can can ask all the appropriate questions and give legal advice based on the exact facts of your situation. The general information provided here does not create an attorney-client relationship.


First of all, you cannot possibly accurately assess the severity of the disabling impairments of others, and comparing your condition to that of others is a fool's errand. Be asssured that race has absolutely nothing to do with impairment severity.

Secondly, in order to show oneself entitled to Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits, one must qualify financially (insured stataus for SSDI and low-income for SSI) and have combined impairments that are so severe that one cannot reliaby sustain any kind of employment.

The most important diffference between your case and one that was awarded may be the effective use of counsel. Many people continue to work with the conditions you list, so in order to put together the proof taht you can't, your attorney is going to have to work with your treating physician(s) (including cergainly your psychiatrist) to build the needed evidence.

If you do not know an experienced and successful Social Security disability attorney, request a referral at

Best wishes for a favorable outcome, and please remember to designate a best answer.

This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.



Great answers by all thank you! I currently am with Binder & Binder and until recently it had all been worked on at their NY office. They just sent my file to their Chicago office. Last week a representative called me and congratulated me for successfully getting approved and told me a check should be in the mail within 30-60 days. Later that evening when I got home I called social security to find out further information such as how much I'd be getting per month and was informed it shows that now award had been given as of yet! I then went to the local social security office the next morning to reconfirm this one way or another. And even the clerk at the office emphasized that I get "local" representation for this in order to successfully get the award. My hearing is mid March of this year and the mistake in communication was that they awarded me a "critical escalation" for the hearing date. Talk about somewhat of a let down! That also shows me that some of these BIG firms are just too big to have everything together. Can I still fire them at this point and go with one of you? I don't want to seem them confuse or screw things up any further and have lost confidence in them after this. Thanks!

Paula Brown Sinclair

Paula Brown Sinclair


Finding a local attorney who will actually prepare your case and attend the hearing with you would be the best strategy. Unfortunately, you will need to deal with Binder & Binder on the issue of fees. Ideally they will release you from your contract and give you an amended Form 1696 waiving fees, but that is probably too much to expect. Without it, your new attorney risks not being paid at all.


You need to talk with a local social security attorney ASAP. Your denials have nothing to do with your race, and everything to do with your medical records and/or lack of restrictions by your doctor(s).

Good luck.

DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being provided for informational purposes only because the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.