The Administrative Law Judge At A Disability Hearing has the highest rate of approval

The administrative law judge appeal level has the highest rate of approval of all the levels in the Social Security Disability process. About two thirds of all disability applicants who attend a disability hearing before an administrative law judge win their disability benefits. More people win their benefits at the disability hearing than the initial disability claim and reconsideration appeal levels combined.

So why is the administrative law judge hearing such a winning level for disability applicants?

Initial Social Security Disability claims and reconsideration appeals are both sent to state disability agencies that are responsible for making Social Security Disability determinations. State disability examiners must strictly follow the impairment listing criteria of the disability handbook "Disability Evaluation Under Social Security" as well as the Social Security Disability vocational guidelines when they make their disability determinations. They do not have much flexibility when making their decisions.

Basically, a disability applicant either meets or equals impairment listing criteria or they meet the vocational guidelines that, when combined with the limitations of the disability applicant, allow the examiner to approve their disability benefits on the basis of a medical vocational allowance (medical vocational allowances are based upon an individual's age, education, past work, and residual functional capacity).

Although Administrative Law Judges have to abide by the same medical and vocational guidelines, the guidelines are much more amendable to the judges opinion as to an individual's disability. Administrative law judges can consider the totality of an individual's medical and/or mental conditions when they opine as to whether or not an individual is disabled or not.

They also use medical vocational experts sometimes to help them make their decisions and often these experts are more able to determine how an individual's limitations affect their overall ability to find jobs with those limitations.

Disability applicants who follow the disability appeal process to an Administrative Law Judge Hearing are likely to get their disability benefits much sooner than disability applicants who file multiple initial disability claims. There is just no way around the fact that Administrative Law Judges have much more freedom when making their disability determinations than state agency disability examiners, so filing multiple initial disability claims is not an answer to winning 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.

Most popular topics on

Social Security Disability in North Carolina

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Tips to Prepare for Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI

Advice to Win SSD and SSI Benefit Claims

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

Related pages:

Denied Social Security Disability Appeal
Getting Disability and Trying to work
How many times can I appeal my Social Security Disability or SSI?
Winning at a Social Security Disability Hearing
What happens when you go to a Social Security Disability hearing?
What to expect at a disability hearing
Preparing for a Disability Hearing to Win Social Security or SSI Benefits
Can a disability attorney speed up my disability hearing case?
The Administrative Law Judge Social Security Disability Hearing
Social Security Disability, back pain, and sedentary, light, and medium work
Qualifying for Disability in South Carolina
If you apply for disability in South Carolina
Disability Lawyer in South Carolina