What is a Social Security Disability Technical Denial?

What is a Social Security Disability Technical Denial?

Many Social Security Disability (SSD) applications are denied during the initial stages of the process, not because applicants do not meet the medical criteria, but because they are not “technically” eligible.

A “technical denial” occurs when an applicant does not meet the basic, non-medical criteria for disability benefits.

For SSDI benefits, a “technical denial” may occur as a result of any of the following factors:

  • Whether or not the applicant is currently working
  • How much the applicant earns in wages and/or salary
  • How long the applicant worked prior to becoming disabled
  • How recently the applicant worked before becoming disabled
  • How much the applicant earned during the decade just before he or she became disabled

To meet basic, technical eligibility requirements for SSDI, applicants must:

  • Not be employed as a result of his or her disability, or not have earnings greater than the SSA’s definition of “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). The SGA amount is adjusted annually, and is set at $1,550 for sighted individuals and $2,590 for blind applicants for 2024.
  • Have sufficient work credits built up during the 10 years just before you became disabled. To learn more about work credits, including how they’re calculated, click here.

If you fail to meet just one of the technical eligibility requirements for SSDI, your application for disability may be rejected as a “technical denial”—regardless of your medical eligibility.

For SSI benefits, technical factors that help the SSA’s determine eligibility include:

  • Monthly income from all countable resources
  • Available assets from all countable resources

To meet basic, technical eligibility requirements for SSI, you must:

  • Have countable income of $943 or less per month and countable assets totaling $2,000 or less if you’re single
  • Have countable resources $1,415 or less per month and countable assets totaling $3,000 or less if you’re married
  • Not exceed the SGA limit based on your status as sighted or blind

Countable resources for SSI are based on total assets and income available to you at any given time within the month. The assessment of countable resources under the SSI program is quite complex. To learn more about SSI eligibility or how resources are reviewed and considered for SSI applications, click here.

If you exceed the total countable resources for the SSI program you will receive a “technical denial” from the SSA, even if you meet each of the medical requirements.

Unlike medical denials, in most instances, technical denials cannot be appealed. This is because technical denials mean that you do not meet one or more of the basic, technical eligibility requirements. If however, your technical denial was a result of missing documentation or an error in the SSA’s calculations for example, then the decision can be appealed.

Submitted by: Molly Clarke

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