Filing an Application for Disability Benefits
How do you win disability benefits?
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 benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
Social Security Disability--Permanent Disability
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
Qualifying: What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability?
Applying for disability for Fibromyalgia
Filing for disability with Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability on the basis of Depression?
Answers to questions about SSD and SSI disability
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in Pennsylvania
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
Claimants who are represented on disability claims in Pennsylvania tend to have a higher rate of approval, a need for fewer appeals, and more favorable "dates of onset" (the date the disability is proven to have begun) that lead to higher back pay benefits.
Representation may be through a disability lawyer or a specialized non-attorney disability representative. Many non-attorney reps are former Social Security Administration Claims Specialists and Disability Examiners with an extended history of working from within the federal system.
A qualified disability representative will have a knowledge of Social Security administrative law, particularly with regard to how claims are approved through the Social Security listings and the medical vocational grid rules. A qualified and competent disability representative or lawyer will also be skilled in the ability to obtain the most relevant case evidence, analyze it correctly, and incorporate it as part of a winning strategy for a claim.
To learn about fees for representation, see: "How do disability lawyers get paid?"
Getting a Pennsylvania disability lawyer involved in your case can improve your chances of being awarded disability benefits (ongoing and back pay), particularly if your case, like most of those filed in this state, is turned down by the state disability determination services agency.
The federal office of disability programs released information indicating that more than half of those who applied for social security disability (SSD) or supplemental security income (SSI) in Pennsylvania were denied disability benefits. Those who appealed the disability decision of the disability examiner by filing a request for a social security disability review or reconsideration were even less likely to be approved, with a denial rate of approximately 70 percent. This is not surprising, given the fact that the agency reviewing the case, disability determination services, is the same agency that denied disability benefits in the first place.
If your claim for disability benefits is denied, and your reconsideration appeal fails as well, your next best step is to request a hearing before a federal administrative law judge (ALJ). It can take up to a year to have your case heard, but the outcome can be worth the wait—forty percent of claimants who have their case heard before a disability judge win benefits, the best odds for an applicant at any point in the entire disability determination process.
However, the odds of winning benefits before an ALJ are even greater when the claimant retains a lawyer specializing in SSD and SSI matters to present his or her case. The national average disability approval rate of disability claims rises from 40 to 60 percent when the claimant is represented by an experienced disability attorney, leaving little doubt that at this second appeal level a lawyer can make the difference between a loss and a win. Given recent statistics showing the difficulty Pennsylvania residents experience in seeking disability benefits, it is strongly recommended that applicants retain legal counsel before this last, somewhat critical appeal, their chance to be heard before a federal judge.
Note: The request for reconsideration appeal step is currently suspended in the state of Pennsylvania as Pennsylvania is one of 10 prototype states testing a system in which denied claims move immediately to the hearing level upon appeal. Reconsideration may be reinstated at some point and many consider this likely. In the meantime, a claimant who is denied on a disability application should request, and prepare, for a hearing before a federal administrative law judge.
Return to: SSDRC, or the Questions, Answers, Tips, and Advice page
Questions and Answers about Social Security Disability and SSI Disability
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: Tips and Advice for Social Security Disability and SSI Claims