What are the Approval Rates for Disability Benefits?

When an individual applies for Social Security Disability, he or she has a medical condition that has made it impossible to work and earn a living. Often, a legitimate claim for disability benefits is denied, and the claimant must file a request for reconsideration.

While the approval rates for Social Security benefits vary from one state to another, the average national average for initial disability claims being considered in 36 percent. So more initial claims are denied than approved.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees two disability programs, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

If your claim is denied on the initial level, you can file a reconsideration appeal, which is formally called a request for reconsideration. This case level, which involves the reconsideration appeal, has a national average of 13.8 percent of the claims being approved, which is the lowest approval rate of all the case levels for Social Security Disability claim approvals.

This is believed to be because reconsideration appeals are sent back to the same disability agency – a state agency - for a decision. The Social Security Act indicates that states should establish separate agencies for handling disability determination for the SSA.

These state agencies are known as Disability Determination Services (DDS).

The only difference between the initial disability application review and the reconsideration appeal is that a different disability examiner handles the review.

If it is determined that the initial reviewer didn’t make a mistake according to the rules of SSA guidelines, there isn’t much of a chance that the second examiner will overturn that decision.

Reconsideration appeals are usually considered just the next step – which is required – to get to the next step of the claims process.

What are the Approval Rates for Social Security Disability Benefits?

The Hearing Levels

After being denied at the reconsideration appeal, you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge. The hearing level is the level at which you are most likely to be approved for disability benefits during the Social Security Disability application process.

These hearings are overseen by the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). The hearing level has the highest approval rate for disability claims. The national average for disability approvals on the hearing level is 62 percent.

If the claim gets denied by the administrative law judge, an appeal can be filed where the claim will advance to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council, however, has a lower approval rate with only 13 percent of the cases being approved at that level.

If your claim is denied by the Appeals Council, you can once again file an appeal and take your claim to federal court. About 40 percent of cases that advance to federal court get approved for disability benefits.

State Approval Ratings

When looking at the approval ratings on a state by state basis, about 52 percent of claims are approved on the initial consideration level in Hawaii, giving the state the highest approval rate in the country.

Mississippi has the lowest approval rate on the initial review level with only 24 percent of claims being approved.

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