How Likely Is It That A Social Security Disability Claim Will Be Won Prior To The Hearing Level?

Many people believe that there is no possibility of winning a disability claim prior to a hearing before a social security administrative law judge. While the administrative law judge hearing has the highest disability approval rate (the approval rate for disability claimants at administrative law judge hearings is over sixty-five percent), it is not the only level of the Social Security Disability process at which a person can win a disability claim.

Most people do not know that more than thirty-five percent of all individuals who file initial disability claims win their disability benefits (meaning they've won their benefits at the application level) and about ten or fifteen percent of the disability claimants who file a reconsideration (the first appeal available to claimants who have been denied on an application) win their disability benefits.

The poor approval rates for the reconsideration appeal level is not surprising because reconsideration appeal decisions are made at the same disability agency at which initial claims are made.

The only difference between an initial disability claim and a reconsideration appeal is that a different disability examiner makes the reconsideration appeal decision. The actual process (gathering records, analyzing them to see if a claimant has a condition that either meets a disability listing, or makes it impossible for them to do a former job or some type of other work, etc) is exactly the same.

So, unless the disability examiner who made the first decision made an error, or there is new medical evidence (that has come into being between the time of the disability application and the reconsideration filing) that supports a different decision, it is unlikely the outcome for the disability claim will change with the reconsideration appeal.

The best thing anyone can probably say about the reconsideration appeal is that it was a necessary step on the path to a disability hearing. And this is simply because a request for hearing before an administrative law judge cannot be filed until a claimant has gone through the first appeal step (the request for reconsideration) and been denied.

Although the disability process can be long and full of hardships, individuals who follow the process through the administrative law judge hearing have a very good chance of winning their disability benefits. So, do not be discouraged when your disability claim is denied or even if your reconsideration appeal is denied as the majority of disability claimants are denied at these levels.

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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