Social Security Disability Resource Center

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Social Security Disability, SSI Decisions – What Is the Rate of Approval?

The approval rate for Social Security disability and SSI decisions varies from state to state as well as between the levels of the Social Security disability process. The average national rate of approval for initial disability claims is 36 percent. This means about sixty four percent of all initial disability claims are denied.

Disability claimants are allowed to appeal their denial through a reconsideration appeal, or, more formally, a "request for reconsideration". The reconsideration appeal level has the lowest approval rate of all Social Security disability case levels with a national average of only 13.8 percent.

This is mostly due to the fact that reconsideration appeals are sent back to the same state disability agency for a decision (the social security act specified that states would establish separate agenices to handle the act of disability determination for the social security administration and these agencies are known as DDS, or disability determination services).

The only difference between a "recon" and a disability application is that the reconsideration appeal is sent to a different disability examiner for review. If the initial disability examiner did not make an error according to the rules and Social Security SSI guidelines there is very little likelihood that another disability examiner will overturn their decision.

Whatever the reason, reconsideration appeals are most often looked upon as a step to the next (and, statistically, most winnable) level of the Social Security disability process. If a disability claimant’s reconsideration appeal is denied, they can appeal that decision to an ALJ, or administrative law judge.

The ALJ is the decision-maker for all cases that proceed to the social security hearing level. Hearings are conducted at federal hearing offices that were formally (and more logically) known as OHA, or the office of hearings and appeals. Currently, the hearings office goes by the title of ODAR, the office of disability adjudication and review.

The disability hearing level has the highest approval rate with a national average approval rate of 62 percent. This is an extremely high approval rate considering that 13 percent of the remaining hearing appeals were dismissed for other reasons other than a denial. That makes the disability hearing appeal denial rate about 25 percent.

If a disability claimant is denied at an administrative law judge hearing, they can appeal their denial to the Appeals Council, however the approval rate for Appeals Council review appeals is only about 13 percent.

Finally, if a disability claimant’s disability case is denied through the Appeals Council, they can still appeal their decision to federal court. National statistics indicate that approximately 40 percent of disability cases taken to federal court are approved.

National statistics also indicate that the rate of approval for Social Security disability decisions can vary greatly between states. While Social Security has a uniform disability process throughout the nation, individuals who make disability decisions are still "interpreting" medical, vocational, and disability guidelines and this interpretation is often subject to viewpoints that varies from state to state, or even from case processing unit to case processing unit within a state's DDS agency.

For example, Hawaii has the highest approval rate of about 52 percent for initial disability claim decisions, while Mississippi has the lowest initial disability claim approval rate of about 24 percent.

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

  • What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Medical exams for disability claims

    Applying for Disability in various states

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits

    FAQ on Disability Claim Representation

    Disability hearings before Judges

    Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    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

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Applying for Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    Related pages:

    How Many Times Will Social Security Disability Deny You before You Get Approved for Disability?
    Has my Disability Claim Been Approved?
    The Social Security Disability Approval Process
    Social Security Disability for insomnia or sleep disorders
    Disability Approval Chances at the Social Security Reconsideration and Hearing Levels
    Filing with SSA for disabled child with autism
    The most difficult part of the disability approval process is the length of time
    How To Get Disability Through SSDI or SSI Approved
    If you apply for disability in Maryland
    Will I qualify for disability benefits in Maryland?
    Getting a Disability Lawyer in Maryland

    These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

    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