Social Security Disability Resource Center

Overview | How to Qualify | Applications
Requirements | How long it takes | Back Pay
Mental Disability | What is a disability? | Tips
SSI Benefits | How to Win | Disability Awards
Hearings | Appeals | List of Disabling Conditions

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.

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

  • What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Medical exams for disability claims

    Applying for Disability in various states

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits

    FAQ on Disability Claim Representation

    Disability hearings before Judges

    Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    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

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Applying for Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    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.

    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