What Are the Chances of Winning a Social Security Disability Appeal?

June 24, 2021
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If your SSDI claim was denied, you might wonder what your chances of winning a Social Security disability appeal would be.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) allows denied applicants to appeal their decision on four escalating levels. The odds of winning an appeal vary depending on the level of your appeal. However, there are other ways to increase your chance of a positive outcome. Having a Social Security disability lawyer on your side can be invaluable as you fight to get the benefits you deserve. In Florida, the experienced disability attorneys of Rue & Ziffra can help you increase your odds of getting approval on your initial application or on appeal.

Social Security Disability Claim Approval Rates

In 2018 (the most recent date for which statistics are available), the Social Security Administration awarded disability benefits to less than 24% of applicants upon their initial application. This means that unless you did everything right when you first applied, you will likely have to file an appeal. Unfortunately, your odds are even lower for getting your benefits approved on the first appeal—about 12%. If you move on to the next level of appeal, which involves a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ), your chances for approval increase significantly—more than 55%.

It is interesting to note that about 40% of initial claims denials are for technical (non-medical) reasons. In other words, the SSA examiner never got around to reviewing your medical reasons for seeking SSDI. This can occur if you failed to fill out the application forms correctly or did not follow the instructions carefully.

Factors That Affect Your Odds of Winning a Disability Appeal

Several factors can influence your odds of getting a favorable decision when appealing an SSDI claim denial. Some of these factors you cannot control, but you can control several of the most important factors.

The primary reason that benefits awards are so low upon first appeal (called the reconsideration appeal) is that the SSA is reviewing the same information as it did the first time—unless you modify your application. Applicants who try to handle the appeal process themselves often resubmit the same documents they used for their original application. Your file will be assigned to a different examiner, however, so the reconsideration appeal does get approved at least some of the time.

Your medical reason for seeking SSDI benefits is another factor that plays an important role in appeals denial. Any condition that is not specified in the SSA’s published guidelines for disability evaluation requires a careful approach to documentation. You can get approved for non-listed conditions, but you will have to prove to the examiner why and how that condition prevents you from working.

One factor that you typically cannot control is which administrative law judge your appeal gets assigned to. If you browse Social Security disability judges approval rates, you will note a significant disparity in approval rates from judge to judge.  

These are just a few of the factors that can affect your chances of winning an SSDI appeal.

How to Improve Your Chances of Winning an SSDI Appeal

If you choose an experienced Florida Social Security disability lawyer to handle your original application, there’s an excellent chance that you won’t have to worry about a claim denial. Once you receive notice of denial, however, you can take steps to improve your chance of winning an appeal.

The first step is to determine the basis for the denial. Once you make that determination, you can modify your application and documentation to address the deficiencies. This is especially important if you request an ALJ hearing.

Once you determine your Social Security disability hearing status, you must prepare to present your case before the judge. You may be able to improve your chances for an award by having expert witnesses there to testify or by submitting new evidence to support your claim.

An experienced SSDI claim lawyer can handle all these aspects for you. Attorneys understand the system and the laws that apply to your case. They have the resources necessary to build the strongest possible appeal on your behalf.

Contact a Florida Social Security Disability Attorney Now for Help

In Florida, the Social Security disability attorneys of Rue & Ziffra know how to get results. Our Social Security disability team is led by Attorney Luis Gracia, a specialist in this field and a board-certified Social Security disability lawyer. We fight tirelessly to get you the results you deserve. Call 1-800-JUSTICE or contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation or to speak with a Social Security disability lawyer now.

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