Social Security Disability Approval and Denial Rates

I recently made a comment about approval and denial rates and am reposting this information here. This is based on information compiled and presented in the recent "Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance program".

Regarding the SSD system and getting through it, it is a difficult system. The rate of denial, nationally, at the initial claim level for disabled workers in the Social Security Disability program (there are other categories such as widow/widower claims and disabled adult children) has dropped in recent years to about 23 percent. The corollary to the disability application approval rate of 23 percent is that 77 percent of claims are denied.

The rate of denial for disabled workers in the Social Security Disability program at the reconsideration appeal level (the first appeal) has dropped to about 10 percent (in prior years it was 12-14 percent). A reconsideration appeal rate of approval of 10 percent also means a denial rate of 90 percent.

However, the allowance rate for disabled workers in the Social Security Disability program at the disability hearing level was recently recorded at 76 percent. That figure dropped to 55 percent when a case involved both SSD and SSI.

Note: this information was provided by the Social Security Administration in 2012. It seems that approval rates have continued to drop very significantly since then, thus making it even more important to 1. not fail to file appeals, 2, continue to have recent medical evidence supporting a claim, 3. comply with all DDS requests for information, 4. go to all scheduled appointments, and 5. get representation at the very least by the time it is clear that the case is progressing to the disability hearing level.

The reality is that individuals who pursue their claims to the hearing level will have a good chance of winning benefits. SSA, in the opinion of many, actually counts on people to give up and drop out of the process at the earlier levels. And many do because the process is so very long.

As for attorneys and representatives, I would advise anyone who has a hearing to get a competent representative because those 2-3 years of applications and appeals that occur BEFORE the hearing takes place will be wasted if someone is not prepared for that disability hearing (which often takes just 20 minutes).

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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