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

Do Most People Need To See A Judge To Get Disability Benefits From Social Security?

Unfortunately, most people do need to see a judge to get disability benefits from Social Security. Social Security has a very strict evaluation process that includes impairment listings that address illnesses and disorders for all body systems. These impairment listings set forth the criteria needed to meet or equal the severity requirements for the Social Security Disability program.

Individuals who meet or equal an impairment listing will not need to see a judge to get disability benefits. Additionally, individuals who have residual functional capacity ratings that are severely restricted may be able to get disability benefits on the basis of a medical-vocational disability approval.

Medical vocational disability approvals are based upon an individual’s age, education, work history, and residual functional capacity. These types of approvals use a five-step process in which a disability examiner, or judge if the case is at the hearing level, will determine if the claimant can go back to their past work and, if not, whether the claimant do some type of other work. If the answer to both questions is no, they may be awarded disability benefits.

If an individual cannot get disability benefits approved by meeting or equaling the criteria of an impairment listing (for instance, the impairment list for rheumatoid arthritis, or the impairment listing for lupus, or the impairment listing for depression or bipolar) or through a medical vocational allowance for their initial disability claim, they will have to use the Social Security Disability appeal process if they still hope to be approved for disability benefits.

Rates of approval

Approval rates for initial disability claims (initial claims are disability applications) are at about thirty-five percent, meaning that about 65 percent of initial claims are denied. Only about ten or fifteen percent of cases are approved at the first appeal level, the reconsideration appeal level.

This means that if one hundred people filed an initial disability claim, only about thirty-five would get disability benefits. And if the sixty-five individuals who were denied at the initial disability claim level filed a reconsideration appeal, only ten to fifteen of those who appealed would get disability benefits.

Meaning: out of the original one hundred individuals who filed a claim, there would still be fifty-five individuals who would need to see a judge to get disability benefits from Social Security.

While these approval rates are discouraging, individuals who have to see a judge have the best chance of being approved for disability out of all of the levels of the Social Security Disability process. National approval rates for administrative law judges average about sixty-six percent.

The wait for a hearing date

The worst thing about having to see a judge to get disability benefits is the wait for a disability hearing. Social Security hearing offices across the country have large backlogs of hearing requests and are receiving record numbers of new hearing requests. This has resulted in a long wait for a disability hearing.

Many people are waiting twelve months or more for a hearing and, while their chances are good for an approval of disability benefits, there is no guarantee that they will get disability from Social Security even if they see a judge.

Having said that, though, hearings represent the best chance of approval since, with representation, the approval rate can exceed 60 percent. Why is this? There are several reaons, one of which is that, at a hearing, an ALJ, or administrative law judge, will give full consideration to a statement supplied by a claimant's treating physician, as long as statement is not contradicted by the medical records.

Also, disability representatives will usually research a case and determine how it is supported by the various rules and regulations that guide the decision process.

Finally, hearings are not like the earlier levels of the system where a decision is made by a disability examiner with practically no input from the claimant. At the hearing, the claimant or their disability representative will present a case for approval, which may involve interacting with whatever expert witnesses the judge has chosen to have appear (typically, a vocational expert or a medical expert).

Questions and Answers

1. How to File for Disability - Tips from an Insider

2. Mental Disability Benefits - What Social Security will Consider

3. Social Security Back Pay

4. How to Claim Disability When you Have a Medical Problem

5. Social Security Disability Requirements

6. Filing for Social Security Disability- what to bring when you apply

7. Social Security Disability Review

8. Medicare and Disability - Basic Facts

9. Social Security Hearing- How do I Request one, how long will it take?

10. Social Security Disability Hearings - What is the ALJ

11. What does a disability lawyer in Texas do to help you win benefits?

12. Disability Hearing - How do I request one?

13. Disability Attorney - Does Social Security pay the fee?

14. Social Security Disability Attorney- do I need one to win my case?

15. Social Security Disability Award Letter

16. SSI for children

17. Social Security Disability Status

18. Filing a Social Security Disability Application - How to File & the Information that is Needed by SSA

19. Disability Attorneys- Will they do your forms for you?

20. Supplemental Security Income - SSI Disability?

21. Social Security Attorneys and What they do for you

22. How much can I get in Social Security Disability Income?

23. Disability Hearings - how many are won?

24. Social Security Disability Hearings - what to expect

25. Social Security Temporary Disability - Can I get temporary benefits?

26. Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it

27. The SSI Award Letter from Social Security

28. SSI Benefits - who is Eligible and How do I apply?

29. The Continuing Disability Review for SSD and SSI claims

30. Vocational expert at a disability hearing - what is this

31. Eligibility for Social Security Disability Children Benefits

32. Medical Disability- How does Social Security view your work and medical records

33. Disability and Medicare- how does it work

34. SSI Benefits - what do they include and how long does it take

35. Disability Status - when should I call to check

36. How much does disability pay

37. Social Security appeal- Is it better to appeal if your disability is denied?

38. Submitting a Social Security Disability Appeal in Ohio

39. Social Security Disability Approval Process

40. Filing for Social Security Disability — the steps to take

41. Possible Advice If You Are Filing For Disability

42. Getting Social Security Disability Help for your Case

43. Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on

44. Social Security Disability — when to file

45. The Social Security Disability Decision and Your Ability to Work

46. What Determines Social Security Disability Income?

47. Making a Request for a Disability Hearing

48. Social Security Disability Claims and Medical Exams

49. Social Security Disability Claim Status

50. Social Security Disability Approvals - Medical Conditions and Getting Approved

51. Social Security Disability--Permanent Disability

52. SSDI Decision, SSI Decison - How long does it take?

53. What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits

54. What do I do to file a disability appeal in New York?

55. What to Do After You Apply for Disability

56. Why is the Social Security Disability Decision Process So Slow

57. Winning a Social Security Disability Appeal or SSI Appeal

58. Winning at a Social Security Disability Hearing

59. Will I need a Social Security Disability Lawyer in Michigan?

60. Using a Social Security Disability Attorney in California

61. What Will a Disability Lawyer Do to Win a Social Security Case?

62. SSI Disability - Filing for SSI Benefits

63. Social Security Disability and Medication

64. Will Your Claim for Disability be Handled Differently if it is Based on a Physical or Mental Problem?

65. Can you get Social Security Disability or SSI for a short period of time, i.e. Temporary Disability?

66. Can a Congressional Inquiry Really Help Your Disability Case?

67. What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?

68. Can You File For Disability While Receiving Unemployment?

69. Do the Results of the Social Security Psychological Exam have any Bearing on Being Approved?

70. The difference between an Application for disability and a Social Security Reconsideration?

71. Does Level of Education or Age Matter for Social Security Disability or SSI?

72. What does the Severity of your impairment have to do with Your Disability Claim?

73. Receiving Disability Benefits from Social Security is harder at the first two levels than at a Hearing

74. Inability to Work and Eligibility for Social Security Disability and SSI Benefits

75. Proving Functional Limitations and why this is Important on a Disability Case

76. What are the Odds or Chances of Being Approved for Disability?

77. Should you get a Statement from a Personal Physician for your SSD or SSI Disability Case?

78. Who is the DDS Doctor, i.e. the Social Security Doctor?

79. What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

80. Social Security Disability, SSI, and Residual Functional Capacity, RFC

81. What Benefits come with SSI Disability?

82. What conditions do they Award Disability Benefits for?

83. What makes you entitled to receive disability benefits under SSI or SSD?

84. What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

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.