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Working and Disability

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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 ďDisability Evaluation Under Social SecurityĒ 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 individualís 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 individualís disability. Administrative law judges can consider the totality of an individualís 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 individualís 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.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

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

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 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