Being found disabled has never been easy. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has 4 stages in the application process for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
The 4 Stages are:
- Filing an Application for Social Security Disability Benefits/Supplemental Security Income;
- If denied you then file a Request for Reconsideration;
- If your Request for Reconsideration is denied you file a Request for Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ); and
- If you receive an unfavorable decision from an ALJ you may appeal the unfavorable decision with the Appeals Council (AC).
Number of applicants winning their disability is decreasing:
Over the years less and less applicants filing for disability have received disability at the Hearing level in front of an ALJ (after step 3). And even fewer have received disability benefits prior to this stage. The average approval rate has dropped to around 36% nationally. In the past the approval rate has been above 50% at the hearing level. Unfortunately approval rate appears to be continuing to decrease. The trend is less and less people are being approved for disability benefits.
Why you need an Attorney:
The lesson to be learned is if you are seeking disability benefits from the SSA, you need all the help you can get. After an initial denial, it is wise to engage the services of an attorney who practices Social Security Disability law. This is not a guarantee of success, but it does increase the odds. Once you receive a denial you have a strict time frame to file an appeal. An experienced attorney will help guide you through the appeals process and ensure your medical record is updated. As each Social Security Hearing Office is different, a local attorney will have a feel for the various local judges and may have some additional insight that is helpful.