In California and throughout the nation, Social Security provides benefits to people who cannot work due to disability. To be approved for benefits, applicants must follow the proper application procedures, and their condition must qualify as a disability under the Social Security Administration’s definition.

The Social Security Administration defines a disability as a condition that is severe enough that it prevents the claimant from working for at least one full year in a position that will allow the claimant to earn a substantial and gainful income. Factors that may be considered in a disability application include the claimant’s education level, age and job experience.

Many claims are denied after an initial application. If the claim is denied at the reconsideration level, applicants may request a reconsideration of the denial and a hearing before an administrative law judge. Many claims take months or years to be approved because the system is designed to award benefits to claimants who are totally disabled on a long-term basis. The current policies assume that claimants may have access to short-term disability benefits, savings or other investments while their claim is being considered.

A person who has been denied Social Security benefits may benefit from consulting with a lawyer. An attorney may be able to increase the claimant’s chances that the claim will be approved. A very common reason for denial is because the Social Security Administration does not have enough documentation to support an approval for benefits. This could either be because the claimant failed to seek medical treatment or the administration does not have the claimant’s entire medical record.