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Is it possible to get disability approved in Illinois at the reconsideration level?

Yes, it is possible to get Social Security Disability or SSI Disability benefits approved at the reconsideration level. However, unfortunately, the odds tends to go against disability claimants at this stage of the process.

How bad are the odds? According to recent-year statistics, in Mississippi, 92.9 percent of reconsiderations were lost. In California, the statistic was 80.7 percent, for Texas it was 84.2 percent, for New York it was 84.6 percent, for Florida it was 84.6 percent, for Illinois it was 87.1 percent, and for Georgia it was 83.4 percent----however, nationally, the percentage of Social Security Disability and SSI disability claims lost at the reconsideration level was 84.9 percent (which is why I so often cite 81% as the average denial rate).

Why is this? Why do so many disability cases get denied in Illinois at the reconsideration level? A disability examiner or someone who works for the social security administration might say "Isn't it obvious? Nothing changed medically between the time the disability application was denied and the time the reconsideration was filed".


1. How do I request, or file for, a Social Security Disability hearing?
2. The Social Security Hearing Process
3. The Administrative Law Judge Social Security Disability Hearing
4. Steps and Tips for requesting a disability hearing

And, to be honest, this is probably true in most cases, particularly since there is a quicker turn-around time on a social security reconsideration versus an application for disability.

What does this mean then? In my own opinion, it means two things. First, that reconsideration-level examiners are biased in the sense that, unless something is glaringly wrong with an initial claim examiner's decision, they will typically render a decision that, in effect, upholds the initial claim denial. Second, it says that initial claim examiners work in a system that is inherently biased against individuals who file for disability. And the proof of this lies in the fact that at least half of the claims that are heard by administrative law judges at disability hearings are approved.

Why the disconnect between the hearing level and the two prior levels of adjudication? In some cases, you can successfully make the point that a claimant's medical condition has changed, but that's only because the wait time for a disability hearing is so incredibly long. By and large, few individuals who operate in the system would argue with the notion that the system is simply biased against claimants at the levels preceding the hearing stage.

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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.