What are the Chances of Being Approved for a Child who is Filing for Disability?

The social security administration releases information on the number of disability claim approvals at the various levels of the system (disability application, reconsideration appeal, and disability hearing) annually. And these are broken down by state. Over the last 14 years, though there has a small amount of deviation, those numbers have remained very consistent. Today, as was the case then, about 30-35 percent of claims will be approved following the filing of a disability application. And only about 13-15 percent of first appeals, or requests for reconsideration, will be approved.

At the social security hearing level, of course, the outcomes become much more favorable and a claimant who goes it alone can generally expect to have a forty percent chance of being approved while a person who is represented by a disability attorney or disability representative can generally expect to have a sixty percent chance of being approved for disability.

As to qualifying for disability as a child, I am not sure that the social security administration publishes specific statistics. However, speaking as a former disability examiner for DDS, or disability determination services, I can realistically state that the chances of being approved as a child usually involved significantly lower odds. This was the case at both of the first two levels (application and reconsideration).

Speaking also as someone who has been involved in the representation of disability claimants, I can effectively state that, at disability hearings as well, children who are filing for disability will have more difficulty when they (actually, their parents who are applying for disability on their behalf) are attempting to qualify for disability benefits under SSI -- as an aside, minor-age children do not have applications taken in the Social Security Disability program, but, rather, the SSI program.

Note: When a disability examiner at disability determination services works to process an SSI claim involving a child, their evidence gathering activity will focus on both A) medical records and B) school records.

Medical evidence is typically gathered for all claims because even if the child applicant alleges a condition that results in learning-related difficulties (for example, ADHD), the condition will still need a formal diagnosis by a qualified medical provider (which is typically a licensed physician, whether that physician is a practicing medical doctor or a psychiatrist--though records will also be obtained from psychologists, counselors, and a child's teachers). I

If the child is alleging an impairment that would not seem to imply academic difficulty, such as asthma or epilepsy (seizures), school records may still be gathered because the basis for making an approval on a child disability claim has to do with whether or not the child is on pace with their peers in terms of being able to engage in age-appropriate activities, and this typically involves school performance unless the child is an infant or toddler, in which the sole focus of evidence gathering might be records from hospitals, clinics, family physicians, and pediatricians.

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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