Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

Disability Approval Chances at the Social Security Reconsideration and Hearing Levels

In the federal disability system, administered by the social security administration, the first level of disability appeal is called a request for reconsideration. This appeal is sent to the same state disability determination services agency (DDS) that denied the claimant’s first application, so it is not surprising that statistics show most people are not awarded benefits as a result of filing a reconsideration appeal.

Also, because reconsideration appeals are decided based on the exact same guidelines used to deny the initial disability application, it is unlikely that a claimant will get a different result unless he or she has new, persuasive medical information to add to the record. And generally this does not occur because the time distance between a decision on a disability application and a disability reconsideration tends to be fairly short (sometimes just a few weeks, and usually, at most, a handful of months).

Even though reconsideration appeals are decided by a different disability examiner than the one that reviewed the application, unless there is some significant medical evidence that documents a change or worsening in the claimant’s medical condition, or gross error on the part of the first disability examiner, the chance of winning a reconsideration disability appeal is pretty slim. Currently about 85% of all reconsideration appeals are denied.

However, at the second level of appeal, a disability hearing, claimants stand a better chance of approval. Over 65% of all people who file second appeals and who are represented are approved for disability benefits.

This indicates three things: 1) DDS denies a lot of claims that are actually valid; 2) federal Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) are more likely to approve disability applications than the disability examiners employed by DDS; 3) having someone research the background of the case, gather additional evidence, and present an argument for the approval of the claim can make a substantial difference in the outcome.

Typically, most people who file for Social Security Disability (SSD) or SSI must appeal not once, but twice before they are approved. Most claimants do not bother to see their claim through to the end, though. According to one estimate, of the 2 million plus people who apply for disability, only 500,000 actually go through with a hearing.

Why is the number of appeals so low? Well, many claimants are not aware that being denied Social Security once is not the final word on collecting benefits. They do not realize that about 70% of all applicants are initially denied, or that so many reconsideration appeals are denied as well. And many probably just get worn down by the whole process—it can take years to appear before an ALJ (administrative law judge) because there are so many cases clogging the disability system at every level.

On the bright side, those who file a reconsideration appeal, get denied on this appeal, and then go on to pursue a social security disability hearing have a very good chance of winning an SSA disability appeal. Statistically, the odds of approval are simply in favor of claimants who A) do not give up on their claims, and B) utilize the appeal system provided by socials security.

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

Related pages:

The Social Security Disability Approval Process and the Criteria for Decisions
Disability Approval Chances at the Social Security Reconsideration and Hearing Levels
How will you be notified if you receive an Approval for Social Security Disability or SSI
Social Security Disability, SSI Decisions – What Is the Rate of Approval?
The Social Security Disability Approval
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
The Medical Vocational Allowance Approval for Social Security Disability and SSI cases
Can you be denied for disability even if your doctor recommends that you be approved?
Reopening of a prior waiver in my disability case

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 to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
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