What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
Answers to questions about SSD and SSI disability
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
Does The Social Security Judge Use The Same Rules As The Disability Examiner?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
In theory, all Social Security disability medical determinations are based upon the same disability rules and guidelines. To that end, Social Security disability examiners are strictly bound by the disability criteria contained in the Social Security impairment listings and established vocational rules (sometimes called the vocational grid).
Disability examiners have very little leeway when making their medical determinations. This could account for the low approval rates for initial disability claims and reconsideration appeals. The national average approval rate for initial disability claims is about thirty five percent and the average approval rate for reconsideration appeals is only about ten to fifteen percent.
It is only when an individual appeals their disability claim to an administrative law judge hearing that their chances of being approved for disability dramatically improve. Now comes the big question as to why this is so if both disability examiners and administrative law judges have the same rules and guidelines to make their disability determinations.
The simple truth is that administrative law judges have more flexibility in interpreting medical evidence and in applying vocational guidelines. For example, administrative law judges have vocational and medical experts to help them with their decisions.
Vocational experts are generally local and are able to interpret the lack or availability of other types of work in the area that might be appropriate for an individual considering their residual functional capacity (what an individual is able to do in spite of the limitations impose upon them by their disabling impairment).
Disability examiners, on the other hand, must look at the national general economy when they make their determinations. Whatever the reason--more flexibility in applying the guidelines, medical experts, or vocational experts--the approval rate for administrative law judge disability hearings is the highest of all levels of the disability process.
National statistics indicate that about sixty-six percent of all disability claimants who attend a disability hearing are approved.
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Individual Questions and Answers
SSD and SSI are Federal Programs
The title II Social Security Disability and title 16 SSI Disability programs operate under federal guidelines and, therefore, the program requirements--medical and non-medical--apply to all states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Recent approval and denial statistics for various states can be viewed here:
Social Security Disability, SSI Approval and Denial Statistics by state
Special Section: Disability Lawyers and unnecessary claim denials