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

Are the Chances of Winning Disability Benefits Higher at a Social Security Hearing with a Judge?

At the first two levels of the disability system, there is often little a claimant can do to avoid being denied disability benefits under SSD (Social Security Disability) or SSI (supplemental security income disability). This is because those levels of the system--the disability application and reconsideration appeal--are decided by disability examiners. Disability examiners in every single state have higher denial rates than administrative law judges (who issue decisions at disability hearings).

Why is this the case? There are several possible reasons. First of all, the process that is used by disability examiners does not allow claimants to meet the decision-maker (the disability examiner in this case) and present an argument in favor of their case. Because disability examiners operate in a closed system, claimants do not have the opportunity to know anything of any real importance about the processing of their case until they have received a notice of decision.

In contrast to this, claimants who go to disability hearings have the opportunity (directly, or through their appointed disability lawyer) to:

A) Review their file;

B) Add medical evidence to their file;

C) Check to ensure that no medical records are missing from the file (a common complaint of applicants who have received a notice of denial from a disability examiner is that crucial medical records are either missing from the file or were never gathered by the examiner, despite the fact that the claimant listed a specific treatment source at the time of filing the disability application).

D) Take questions from the decision-maker which may be used to clarify key points regarding the claimant's medical history or work history.

The disability hearing stage is also distinctly different in that administrative law judges prefer to have available to them the opinion of the claimant's own physician. It is for this reason that competent disability attorneys will usually try to obtain a detailed medical source statement from a claimant's treating physician as this can carry substantial weight at a hearing.

Disability examiners, on the other hand, tend not to give proper consideration to the opinion of a claimant's own doctor or doctors. This may be due, in part, because disability examiners use a process that requires them to have their own decisions reviewed by a medical doctor who works in their processing unit (a unit medical consultant). This insular system may produce a tendency to disregard the opinion of the doctor who has actually treated the patient in favor of a doctor (who works with the disability examiner) who has never treated the patient and has never even met the patient.

However, to answer the question with which we started, yes, the chances of winning disability benefits at a hearing held by a judge are substantially higher. To get to a disability hearing, however, a claimant must first be denied on an application for disability and then on a reconsideration appeal.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

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

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

Will a Social Security Judge give You an Immediate Decision at the Disability Hearing?
Basic Facts about the Administrative Law Judge Social Security Disability Hearing
Are the Chances of Winning Disability Benefits Higher at a Social Security Hearing with a Judge?
Winning at a Social Security Disability Hearing
Social Security Disability Hearings - what to expect
What happens when you go to a Social Security Disability hearing?
Preparing for a Disability Hearing to Win Social Security or SSI Benefits
Presenting evidence at a Social Security Disability or SSI hearing
How Long Does It Take To Get The Results Of A Disability Hearing?
Do Most People Have To Go To A Disability Hearing in order to Get Approved For Disability?
Can you be approved for disability without having to go to a hearing?
Waiting for a Hearing to be Scheduled before an ALJ, Administrative Law Judge
Vocational expert at a disability hearing - what is this?
Social Security Disability Hearings - What is the ALJ
Applying for Disability in Missouri
Will I qualify for SSI disability in Missouri?
Applying for SSI benefits in Missouri

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

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?

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.