Overview of Disability
Disability Back Pay
Requirements for Disability
Applications for disability
Tips and Advice for Disability
How long does Disability take?
Winning Disability Benefits
Common Claim Mistakes
Mental Disability Benefits
Denials for Disability
Appeals for denied claims
Disability Benefits from SSA
SSI Disability Benefits
Child Disability Benefits
Working and Disability
Disability Awards, Notices
Hiring Disability Lawyers
List of Disability Conditions
What SSA finds disabling
SSD SSI Medical Evidence
Filing for Disability
Eligibility for Disability
SSD SSI Definitions
SSDRC authored by
Questions and Answers
SSDRC Disability Blog
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).
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
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?