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

Will I be approved for disability on my appeal?

A disability applicant’s chance of being approved for disability on appeal is not guaranteed and will depend on the merits of the case as well as the level of the appeal. One fact, though, is very clear: the first appeal that a claimant who has been denied for disability can file has a low probability of success while the second appeal (the disability hearing) has dramatically higher chances of resulting in a social security disability or SSI award. To get to the second appeal, however, a claimant must go through the process of filing the first appeal.

The First Appeal

If you are filing a reconsideration appeal, it is unlikely you will win your appeal. It has been estimated that only 10 or 15 percent of initial claim denials are overturned at the reconsideration appeal level (recent reports indicate a 12-14 percent chance of approval at this level, depending on one’s state of residence).

Why is it that reconsideration appeals are so heavily denied? Reconsiderations are sent back to the same state disability agency (in most states, the agency is called DDS, Disability Determination Services) for a decision; therefore the same procedures and methods of evaluation are applied to reconsideration appeals that were applied to the initial disability claim.

The only real difference between how an initial disability application and a reconsideration appeal are handled has to do with the fact that a different disability examiner decides the outcome of the reconsideration. As you might guess, if the reconsideration level examiner does not believe there were errors in the initial disability, or no new substantial medical records are presented, then it is likely that the reconsideration appeal decision will be the same.

The Second Appeal

An administrative law judge at a disability hearing, on the other hand, has more flexibility when making the decision for your disability claim. What do we mean by “more flexibility”? It can be summed up this way:
  1. The disability judge will not have his or her decision reviewed by a supervisor who is concerned with how many approvals have been made by his or her case processing unit.

  2. The judge will typically respect the opinion of the claimant’s treating physician; whereas the disability examiner’s agency (DDS) historically has a low rate of compliance with regard to giving the opinion of a claimant’s doctor the appropriate weight of consideration.

  3. The judge will, if they deem fit, bring in a vocational witness to further develop the claimant’s likelihood (or not) of being able to re-enter the workforce, based on their condition, education, and skills.

  4. The judge will hear arguments and a rationale for approval from either the claimant or their disability lawyer if they are represented (at a hearing, disability representation is strongly recommended).
For these reasons and more, statistically there are far more disability approvals at the hearing appeal level. For most disability applicants, their best chance for a disability approval will be at the administrative law judge hearing.

How many cases are approved at a disability hearing?

With regard to this question, statistics change year by year. They also vary by state. It is often quoted that the average disability hearing approval rate is about sixty-five percent; when you consider another ten percent of dismissed are dismissed for reasons other than a denial, this is an extremely high approval rate.

A federal statistic in recent years indicated that approximately forty-percent of claims were approved at the hearing level if a claimant went to the hearing without the benefit of social security representation, while sixty-two percent of represented claimants were awarded benefits.

If you fall into the percentage of cases who are not approved, denied, at their disability hearing, you are at a decision point. You can appeal your disability hearing decision by filing an Appeals Council Review appea,l or you can file a new claim for disability benefits. New Social Security rules prohibit filing a new disability claim while you wait on your on Appeal Council Review decision. If you have an attorney or non-attorney representative, they can advise you as to which path you should take.

If you do not have a disability representative, you have to make the choice. Very few Appeal Council Review appeals end in an outright approval for disability. Most appeals are denied with a few being remanded back--to the administrative law judge who made the original decision--for review.

But even those disability cases that are remanded to the ALJ for review are often denied. You or your representative must decide whether this appeal is an unnecessary waste of time or it is worthwhile for you to wait the that time it takes to get their decision before filing a new disability claim.

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

Related pages:

Tips for Getting Disability Approved
How Long Will It Take To Get Approved for Disability and what determines this?
Can you be approved for disability without having to go to a hearing?
How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?
How To Get Disability Through SSDI or SSI Approved
Is There A Way To Get Automatically Approved For SSI And Social Security Disability?
How Many Times Will Social Security Disability Deny You before You Get Approved for Disability?
What are the Odds or Chances of Being Approved for Disability?
How do you find out if a Social Security disability claim has been approved or even denied?
Can You Get Approved For Social Security Disability if you do not take medication or go to a doctor?
What are my chances of being approved for disability benefits in North Carolina?

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