You know that your condition prevents you from working — but getting the government to acknowledge that as a fact can be hard. Social Security denies more than half of the disability claims it receives every year, but most people find the denial letters they receive frustratingly hard to understand.

So why was your Social Security Disability claim denied? While the specifics of any individual claim are unique, the usual reasons that claims are denied include:

You’re still able to work

Some people are able to perform substantial gainful activity despite their impairments — even if they can’t do their old job. If you’re among them, you won’t be qualified for Social Security Disability. Unlike workers’ compensation, there’s no such thing as “partial” disability with Social Security.

Your disability isn’t expected to last

Similarly, there’s no such thing as temporary disability under Social Security’s rules. If your condition isn’t expected to last longer than a year or end in death, you won’t be approved for benefits.

Your file is incomplete

Often, disability claims get denied because doctors’ names and addresses are missing, paperwork never got returned and phone calls never got returned. If Social Security wasn’t able to put your medical records and other information together, your claim will almost always be denied.

You didn’t listen to your doctor

It’s generally assumed that sick people want to get better. If you don’t follow your doctor’s advice (without a good reason) for treatment or just aren’t going to the doctor at all, Social Security can deny your claim for benefits on that basis.

If your Social Security Disability claim has been denied for mysterious reasons — or reasons that you completely disagree with — it may be time to get some experienced assistance with your appeal.