By the time a 59-year-old man was diagnosed with colon cancer, it was already at stage 4. His doctors soon determined that his cancer had spread to his lungs. They told him that his prognosis was bleak. Although he’d had Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes deducted from his paychecks for the three decades that he’d worked as a stonemason, his application for disability benefits was denied.

In the letter he received from Tennessee’s Disability Determination Services (DDS), the physician reviewer handling his case wrote that he wasn’t sick enough to qualify for benefits. That doctor who was responsible for combing through his file is one of 50 on staff with DDS who are paid on a per-case basis. The quicker that they review files, the more that they’re given. The fastest reviewers make the most money.

The doctor who reviewed this Tennessee man’s case is one of the fastest ones in the state. It 2018, it took him an average of 12 minutes to review an application for disability benefits. During one of his best years, he reviewed just over 9,000 cases and made $420,000 for doing so. At least 80 percent of the applications he evaluated were denied.

This reviewer isn’t the only one denying claims in large numbers, though. Although an average of 66 percent of disability applications was denied in 2017 nationwide, 6 percent more were denied in Tennessee. This makes it one of the states with the highest application denial rates in the nation.

In a closer analysis of this man’s case, the reviewer’s choice to deny him Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments seemed to be largely based on him not having read a discharge note provided by the hospital. On that document, the man’s treating doctors spelled out how his cancer had metastasized and was inoperable. This clearly qualified him for disability benefits, but he only found that out when he asked an attorney to review his case.

When your ability to work is put in jeopardy because you have a sudden accident, or your health condition deteriorates, it can leave you wondering how you’re going to pay your bills. Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can make a real difference. Whether you qualify for SSDI or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), it is contingent upon a variety of factors that an experienced attorney can outline for you.