Overview of Disability
Disability Back Pay
Requirements for Disability
Applications for disability
Tips and Advice for Disability Claims
How long does Disability take?
Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after a Denial
Mental Disability Benefits
Denials for Disability
Appeals for denied claims
Disability Benefits from SSA
Child Disability Benefits
Qualifications and How to Qualify
Working and Disability
Disability Awards and Notices
Disability Lawyers, Hiring Attorneys
Social Security List of Conditions
What Social Security considers disabling
Medical Evidence and Disability
Filing for Disability Benefits
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
SSD SSI Definitions
SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
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Winning at a Social Security Disability Hearing
It can take well over a year after requesting a disability hearing for your case to be heard before an administrative judge. In addition, if you are at the stage where you have requested a hearing, you have most likely already waited many months to receive a decision at the two lower levels of consideration, the initial claim and the request for reconsideration appeal with disability determination services.
All of this adds up to a lengthy, often financially disastrous period of time without benefits for an individual who is unable to work. It is important, then, that when your case finally comes before a judge, you have an idea of what the odds are that you will win your case.
The good new is that a claim for disability is more likely to be approved by a judge at a federal disability hearing than by a disability examiner working for your state disability determination agency (while disability claims are taken in local social security office, in each state they are sent to a DDS, or disability determination services agency for processing). Statistics show that those filing for social security disability (SSD) or SSI benefits are far more likely to be approved when they use the appeals process than when they start over with a new claim.
Although the rate of disability approval does vary from state to state, approximately 50 percent of all cases heard at social security hearings before an administrative judge are approved. This is a composite number. The actual breakdown, according to federal statistics, is that approximately 40 percent of unrepresented claimants will win at a hearing while as much as 62 percent of claimants will win benefits following a hearing.
Older applicants fare best at this level, because the grid used to determine a personís ability to obtain suitable employment or to learn a new trade tends to support the fact that fewer job options are available to those 50 and older. Having said that, though, younger individuals are equally likely to win their claims as long as their medical records establish that they have severe limitations (of a physical or mental nature, or both) that rule out their ability to perform their past work or any other type of work that their education and skills might suit them for.
Even when a claimant is capable of representing their own case at a hearing, some judges are simply more likely to seriously consider evidence when it is presented by a lawyer. Unfortunately, disability decisions, like all decisions made by human beings, are not entirely objective.
If it was just a matter of reviewing the evidence without some level of interpretation, then your claim would be either approved or denied, and there would be no need for an appeals process. If you make sure that when your case comes before a judge it is presented in the best, most professional light possible, you can only increase the odds of winning at a disability hearing.
Continue to Part 2: Preparing for a Disability Hearing to Win Social Security or SSI Benefits
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria