Is An ALJ (Administrative Law Judge) More Likely To Grant A Claim For Social Security Disability or SSI?

There is no question that an administrative law judge (ALJ) is more likely to approve a claim for disability. National statistics show the average approval rates of administrative law judges to be about sixty-six percent. This makes the administrative law judge disability hearing the most winnable level of the entire disability process.

Only about thirty five percent of disability claimants are granted disability benefits at the initial disability claim and only about ten to fifteen percent of the disability claimants who file a reconsideration appeal win their approval rates are discouraging at best, they are still the only way a disability claimant can get to a disability hearing with an administrative law judge (because you cannot request a hearing until your disability application and reconsideration appeal have both been denied).

So what should you do if your initial disability claim is denied? If you still wish to to pursue being approved for disability benefits, you should file your reconsideration appeal. You'll do this knowing that the chances are very high that you will be denied. However, going through the reconsideration appeal stage is a prerequisite for getting to a disability hearing with an administrative law judge.

Although the disability hearing has the highest approval rate, the wait for a hearing generally causes great emotional and financial hardship for disability claimants. Due to large backlogs at hearings offices across the nation, and new requests for disability hearings (which are soaring), the wait time for hearings can be twelve months or more. In some localities, it is not unusual to have to wait for up to two years to get a hearing date.

If a disability claimant can manage to survive the wait for their social security hearing, they are very likely to be granted disability benefits by an ALJ at their disability hearing. While administrative law judges use the same disability guidelines to make their disability decisions, they are allowed more freedom in their interpretation of medical and vocational rules than disability examiners. And this results in more approvals for disability benefits.

So while the process can be difficult, it is in every disability claimant's best interests to use the Social Security Disability appeal process to be granted disability benefits. While it take a lot of time to get a disability hearing, it is far preferable than the alternative of simply filing new applications (which also take processing time but have a much smaller chance of being approved for disability benefits).

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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