How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

What are the chances of getting approved for disability at each level?

The statistical information on Social Security Disability approvals and denials tends to change a bit with regard to two considerations: time and location.

Related: The rate of approval for Social Security Disability and SSI decisions.

With regard to location, the approval and denial rates will differ from state to state (the social security administration's disability claim system is federal, yet you see noteworthy differences in outcome when comparing individual states, particularly "red" versus "blue" states).

With regard to time, its sufficient to say that the average national statistics change a bit over time. However, it's also safe to say that they don't change that much and so we can somewhat reliably continue to state that, on average, about one-third of all those who apply for disability will be approved for disability benefits at the initial claim level (the application for disability).

At the first appeal level, the request for reconsideration, about fifteen percent will be approved. And at the disability hearing level, roughly half will be approved; more specifically about forty percent who are not represented at the hearing will be approved and about sixty percent who are represented by a disability attorney or a non-attorney claimant's representative will be approved.

How does all of this translate? Let's construct a simple example. The example will, of course, rely on certain assumptions: that all denied claimants will decide to file the appeals they are eligible for and that no one will file a brand new claim in the mistaken assumption that this is the same thing as filing an appeal (sad, but it happens all the time).

1. 100 people apply for disability.

2. If 35 percent are approved at the initial claim level, then 35 of these individuals will be approved and 65 will be denied.

3. If the 65 who were denied decide to file their first appeal, a request for reconsideration, then approximately 10 of these individuals will be approved.

* At this point, the total of individuals, from the group of 100, that have been approved, numbers 45.

4. If the remaining 55 who were denied on a reconsideration appeal (65-10=55) decide to file their next appeal, the request for hearing before an administrative law judge, then manage to wait for their hearing to be scheduled, and then show up for the hearing (again, you'd be amazed at how many individuals do not show up for their hearing after waiting so long for one to be scheduled), then either 22 or 33 more individuals will be approved.

22 is the number of individuals who would be be approved if they went to their hearing without representation. 33 is the number of individuals who would be approved if they went to their hearing with representation (according to a federal statistic from recent years, claimants represented at hearings had a 62% percent likelihood of being approved for disability at a hearing if they had representation, which also translated to a fifty percent increased chance of being approved at a hearing if they had representation versus going to the hearing alone).

5. Add up the numbers and you get the following: of the original 100 applicants for disability, as many as 67 individuals were approved for disability. If you assume that everyone who went to a hearing had representation, then as many as 78 out of the original 100 applicants were approved for disability.

Now, is this example true to life? Not really. Why? Because some claimants give up along the way and do not file their appeals, some continually file new claims instead of filing appeals, some miss filing deadlines, some fail to show for their hearings, and some decide to "go it alone" at a hearing versus getting representation.

However, it does illustrate this one fact: if you get denied for disability, you stand an excellent chance of eventually being approved if you simply do not give up, i.e. you file your appeals and go to your disability hearing prepared.

Essential Questions

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Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

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New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

Who is eligible for SSI, how do I apply?
How to File for SSI
Permanent disability benefits
Disability requirements, eligibility, criteria
Applying for disability, medical conditions
How long does it take to get a disability approval letter?
When should I have doctor complete a statement for my disability case?
Will you need a disability attorney if you have a mental condition?
Disability back pay benefit for the five month waiting period
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

What Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Disability for a mental condition
Tips for Filing for disability
Financial Help Filing For Disability
Checklist for filing for disability, SSI or SSD
Qualifying for disability benefits, how to qualify for SSD or SSI
Filing a disability application: the steps
Disability award notice, how long it takes to get benefits
How to Apply for Disability - Where do I go?
What makes you eligible to get disability?
How to check my disability claim status?
Can a disability attorney speed up a disability case?
SSI disability Award Letter
How long to get approved for disability?
How to apply for disability benefits
How long does disability back pay take?
What are qualifications for getting disability?
What medical conditions can you file disability for?
Disability Lawyer help questions
Social Security Attorneys, Disability Representatives

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.