Sometimes a denial of an initial Social Security disability application is due to something of a time lag between your medical condition and your medical records.
Unless your impairment had a sudden onset, it can be difficult to determine from your medical records when a condition became disabling. Particularly for those who apply for disability benefits soon after stopping work, there is often no difference in your medical records between the time you were working and the time since you stopped. This can lead a disability examiner to deny your disability claim based upon the medical evidence presented.
By the time your claim gets to a hearing by an administrative law judge, well over a year (or much longer, in many parts of the country) has gone by since your initial denial, and the medical picture is often much clearer. One reason more claims are won at the hearing level is that there is often more complete medical evidence by the time a hearing is held.
To minimize the time lag between your medical condition and your medical records, be sure to tell your doctor about your functional limitations. The doctor should enter these limitations into your treatment notes, so that it will be apparent to a person reviewing your medical records that you are experiencing significant limitations.
Make sure to have ongoing medical treatment if at all possible. Over time, the medical record of your impairments will become stronger, and will provide a better basis for a favorable disability determination.