What Are The Odds of Winning A Social Security Disability Appeal?

If you appeal your initial disability denial, your odds of winning disability benefits depend on the appeal level of your disability claim. Reconsideration appeals are sent to the same state disability determination agency that made your initial disability decision. The only difference is that your reconsideration appeal decision will be made by a different disability examiner. Unfortunately, the change in disability examiners does not improve your odds of being approved for disability benefits.

This is not surprising considering that reconsideration appeals are decided using the same guidelines as initial disability decisions. Consequently, the initial disability claim examiner would have to have made a mistake or there would have to be new medical evidence to support that the initial disability decision was incorrect. The reconsideration appeal level has the worst approval rate of the Social Security Disability process with a denial rate of about eighty-five percent.

If you are one of the eighty-five percent who receive a reconsideration appeal denial, you will have to file a request for an administrative law judge disability hearing if you still wish to pursue your disability claim. Unlike the reconsideration appeal, your odds of being approved for disability benefits dramatically improve at this level of the disability process. About sixty-five percent of all individuals who attend a disability hearings are approved for disability benefits.

If you are not approved at your disability hearing, you can appeal your hearing decision to the Appeals Council. However the odds of winning disability at this level of the disability process are next to none. A very small percent of all Appeals Council Review requests are remanded back to the administrative law judge who made the hearing decision for another look--as you might imagine the approval rate for remands is small. An even smaller amount of these appeals result in an actual approval for disability.

Now you have to consider if the time it takes to get a decision from the Appeals Council Review is worth it. Under the old Social Security appeal guidelines, you could file a new disability claim while waiting for your decision, However, new Social Security guidelines have changed this. Currently, you have to choose between filing an Appeals Council review request or a new disability claim.

Unless there is a very good chance your disability claim can win this appeal, you should probably forgo the appeal and file a new disability claim. There may be circumstances that make it worthwhile for you to file an Appeals Council Review appeal, if you have a representative they will help you determine if your odds of winning this appeal are good.

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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