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

How many Social Security Disability and SSI claimants do not file an appeal?

It's fairly common knowledge that a significant percentage of Social Security Disability and SSI disability claimants do not file an appeal following a denial. In my former capacity as a disability examiner this was often verified by how many "uniques" an individual had (a cumulative number showing the number of new claims filed); in other words, how many times a person had opted not to appeal but rather to file a brand new disability application. However, I probably shouldn't say "opted" because, though it may sound strange, too many claimants are not aware of the fact that they can appeal.

Related: Filing a disability appeal is always to your advantage

Working in claimant representation, of course, only added verification to what I had learned as an examiner: an extraordinary number of claimants who were denied seemed to: 1) forego pursuing their claim any further, 2) submitted appeals but too late for them to be accepted by SSA, or 3) made the incorrect assumption that appeals and new applications were one and the same.

So, how many individuals who file for disability and get denied choose not to appeal (the word "choose" is used loosely since, as was mentioned, a number of claimants are simply not aware of their appeal rights)? According to the lead attorney for one of the nation's largest representation firms, it may be as much as two-thirds. Which, to me, is both astounding and yet not unexpected.

Who's to blame for this, assuming blame is even appropriate? Well, I doubt that you can blame disability claimants themselves. Applying for Social Security Disability or ssi is an inherently depressing and gut-wrenching experience and, ultimately, what claimants know about the system tends to be based on what social security administration employees have told them.

In my own opinion, the failure of so many disability claimants to file the appeals to which they are entitled is a failure of the social security administration to properly inform claimants of their rights.

It's been joked about more than once that if every disability claimant who was denied filed the appeal they were entitled to, the Social Security Disability and ssi system would grind to a halt. And more cynical minds have been of the opinion that the federal government counts on this to S-A-V-E M-O-N-EY.

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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.