Do Disability Approval Rates Vary by State?

If you are disabled, Social Security payments can be a big help. Should you choose to apply for these benefits, the national average rate of application approval is 36%.

That means that there’s a large chance that your claim will initially be denied. However, you can then appeal to have your claim reconsidered.

If that reconsideration appeal is denied, you can then appeal your decision to an administrative law judge, or ALJ. At this level of appealing to an ALJ, your chances of success rise considerably. Depending on what state you live in, you might have a 60% chance (or higher) of getting approved for Social Security disability benefits.

What is an ALJ?

Do some states have higher approval rates?

An ALJ is an administrative law judge who acts as the deciding factor in the common event that a citizen’s claim has been denied. ALJs make determinations on all appeals for all cases in the SSA’s hearing process.

Where do These Hearings Take Place?

A hearing appealing to an ALJ takes place at federal hearing offices known as ODAR hearing offices. ODAR stands for Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. These offices are located around the country. ODAR’s offices are places where hearings are held, decisions are issued, and appeals are reviewed.

If your next step is a disability hearing with an ALJ, you will need to find an ODAR office. These are located throughout the country, but some states only have one office each. This makes it harder to appeal for people in those states, because they may not have the ability or finances to travel across the state to the only office available to them.

Appealing to an ALJ has the Highest Rate of Approval

Hearings with an ALJ at an ODAR office have the highest chance of getting approved for disability benefits. Nationwide, ALJ approval rates are around 50%.

Persistency in appealing your claim is a huge factor in winning benefits, because if your case is heard by an ALJ, you have a much higher chance of being approved than at the two previous levels of application and reconsideration.

Which States Have High Approval Rates?

Certain states have a high disability approval rate. The 3 with the highest rates are Hawaii, Utah, and New Mexico. If you are disabled and you live in one of these states, you have a better chance of getting your claim approved (at ALJ hearing level.)

Some reasons for states having higher approval rates than others vary. On one hand, some states with just a couple of ALJs might have high approval rates if the ALJ is more likely to approve many applicants. On the other hand, if your ODAR office has very few ALJs and they reject many claims, you could have a low chance of getting approved.

Even if you don’t live in one of the states with a high disability claim approval rate, it’s advantageous to hire a disability lawyer. A disability lawyer can expedite your disability claims and appeals process, and disability approval rates are 20% higher for people who attend hearings with disability lawyers.

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