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

Does The Social Security Judge Use The Same Rules As The Disability Examiner?

In theory, all Social Security disability medical determinations are based upon the same disability rules and guidelines. To that end, Social Security disability examiners are strictly bound by the disability criteria contained in the Social Security impairment listings and established vocational rules (sometimes called the vocational grid).

Disability examiners have very little leeway when making their medical determinations. This could account for the low approval rates for initial disability claims and reconsideration appeals. The national average approval rate for initial disability claims is about thirty five percent and the average approval rate for reconsideration appeals is only about ten to fifteen percent.

It is only when an individual appeals their disability claim to an administrative law judge hearing that their chances of being approved for disability dramatically improve. Now comes the big question as to why this is so if both disability examiners and administrative law judges have the same rules and guidelines to make their disability determinations.

The simple truth is that administrative law judges have more flexibility in interpreting medical evidence and in applying vocational guidelines. For example, administrative law judges have vocational and medical experts to help them with their decisions.

Vocational experts are generally local and are able to interpret the lack or availability of other types of work in the area that might be appropriate for an individual considering their residual functional capacity (what an individual is able to do in spite of the limitations impose upon them by their disabling impairment).

Disability examiners, on the other hand, must look at the national general economy when they make their determinations. Whatever the reason--more flexibility in applying the guidelines, medical experts, or vocational experts--the approval rate for administrative law judge disability hearings is the highest of all levels of the disability process.

National statistics indicate that about sixty-six percent of all disability claimants who attend a disability hearing are approved.

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

Related pages:

Social Security Disability and Going In Front Of A Judge - What Happens?
Do Most People Need To See A Judge To Get Disability Benefits From Social Security?
Can you still Appeal if the Judge denies your Disability Claim?
Is An ALJ (Administrative Law Judge) More Likely To Grant A Claim For Social Security Disability or SSI?
How Long Does It Take To Go Before A Judge For Disability Benefits?
Does The Social Security Judge Use The Same Rules As The Disability Examiner?
How do I see a judge for my social security disability case or SSI Claim?
Do you have to see a judge to get disability benefits?
When do you see a judge for a social security disability or SSI claim?
What Percentage Of Social Security Disability or SSI Cases Does A Judge Deny?

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