What Percentage Of Social Security Disability or SSI Cases Does A Judge Deny?

If your initial disability claim is denied and you still consider yourself to be unable to work at a substantial gainful work activity level because of your disabling condition, you may have no choice but to begin the Social Security Disability appeal process. This process can take months or even years to get to an administrative law judge hearing. Wait times for disability hearings vary due to huge hearing backlogs in many areas of the country.

Nearly sixty-five percent of all initial disability claims end in denial, which basically means that sixty-five disability applicants out of every one hundred who file an initial disability application are denied. If all sixty-five denied disability applicants file a reconsideration appeal (this is the very first appeal that is available to claimants who have been denied) with Social Security, only about 8 or 9 additional individuals would be approved for disability benefits (the reconsideration appeal denial rate is even higher than the denial rate at the disability application level).

This basically means that, of the original one hundred individuals who filed initial an disability claim, there would still be fifty-four individuals who would have to file an appeal with an administrative law judge (formally known as a "request for hearing before an administrative law judge") in order to have any hope of receiving a Social Security Disability award, or SSI disability award.

Although the statistics above seem dismal, it is not as bad as it appears. The chance of being approved for Social Security Disability benefits dramatically improves at the administrative law judge hearing. National statistics indicate about sixty-six percent of all individuals who file disability hearing appeals are approved by an administrative law judge.

Back to our example, this means that only about thirty-four percent are denied at the disability hearing. Remember, these statistics are only a national average and that some areas have far more individuals approved for disability by judges while other areas have less. Nonetheless, by all standards, administrative law judges have the highest approval rates in the Social Security Disability process.

However, to get a case heard by a judge, a claimant needs to file a reconsideration request if their disability application is denied. And if the reconsideration appeal is also denied (and it typically is), the claimant needs to file a request for a disability hearing. It should also be noted that the higher rates of approval by administrative law judges are coupled with the fact that claimants who win their cases at hearings usually have representation in the form of a disability attorney, or non-attorney disability advocate.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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