Disability Hearings - how many are won?

The second level of the Social Security Disability appeals process is a hearing before an administrative law judge. Statistically, most disability claims for either Social Security Disability or SSI are won at the at the disability hearing level. You may be wondering what makes the Social Security hearings appeal level more favorable toward the disability applicant than either the disability application or the first appeal, the reconsideration.

There are actually a couple of things that make the disability hearings appeal level more favorable to Social Security Disability claimants and SSI claimants.

The disability hearings level is the only time you will meet and be able to speak in person to the individual who is going to adjudicate, i.e. make a decision on your disability claim. This can make quite a difference in the process and because of this you will cease to be simply "a file". The judge will have the opportunity to question you and your disability attorney about your medical treatment history and your work history. And, likewise, you will have the opportunity to provide immediate answers and provide information regarding your condition and how it has affected your ability to work.

Additionally, this person (the administrative law judge) has the power to be more lenient in their interpretation of Social Security Disability rules and guidelines while making a disability decision than the previous initial claim or reconsideration appeal levels (decided by a disability examiner at a state agency usually known as DDS). About half of all the disability claims that reach an administrative law judge hearing are an allowance, meaning they are approved.

The next question that may come to mind is "Do you have to have a representative to win your disability claim". The simple answer to the question is no you do not have representative. However, if you want to win your disability claim it may be wise to hire a representative.

More Social Security Disability and SSI claims with representation are won at the administrative law judge hearing; moreover statistics suggest that an average of sixty percent of the disability claims with representatives are won, and that some representatives win anywhere from seventy to ninety percent of their disability hearings.

How can disability attorneys win such a high percentage of the cases they handle? Simply because it is easier for your representative, who knows the inner workings of the Social Security Disability process, to present the facts of your disability claim in a manner that is most favorable to your winning Social Security Disability or SSI disability benefits.

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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