Each year, more that 2.3 million people apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, and the majority of these applicants are initially denied. Approximately 30 percent of all applications–nearly 775,000 annually–are given technical denial for reasons including lack of earned Social Security credits, income in excess of the “Substantial Gainful Activity” limits, missing medical records, and other application errors.
Of the 70 percent of applications that proceed to the initial application evaluation, another 60 to 70 percent are denied benefits. This means that of the 2.3 million who apply for SSD benefits, only 609,498 actually receive benefits without an appeal.
The application and appeals process for obtaining Social Security Disability benefits may include all of the following steps:
- Initial Application
- Request for Reconsideration by the state Disability Determination Services
- Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Review before an Appeals Council
- Review in Federal Court
For SSD applicants who do not receive a technical denial,, the Disability Determination Examiner applies a 5-step evaluation method to determine early approval or denial of benefits. Approximately 70 percent of applicants do not pass this evaluation and must appeal the rejection in order to obtain SSD benefits. Applications are evaluated on the following considerations:
- Whether or not the claimant is working
- The severity of the claimant’s injury or condition
- The claimant’s ability to work as they previously did
- The ability of the claimant to do another type of work
- Whether or not the claimant’s impairment meets the criteria defined by the Social Security Administration’s List of Impairments
Although the majority of claimants have their applications denied at this level, slightly fewer than half appeal the denial and file a request for reconsideration. Some do not realize that appealing the decision is an option; others simply try to start the process from scratch, filing a new application. Accepting the denial means you will never get the benefits you deserve, and re-filing does not improve your chances in a system that seems stacked against you. Although ten states have eliminated the reconsideration review, Oklahoma is among those in which a request for reconsideration is the first step in the appeals process. Hiring an Oklahoma Social Security Disability lawyer can help you ensure that you meet all deadlines for filing requests for reconsideration and appeals.
If a benefits are denied upon reconsideration, a claimant still has options for pursuing the benefits he or she needs and deserves; however most applicants give up at this point. Approximately 90 percent of requests for reconsideration are denied, but only 18 percent of those continue the appeals to the next step, a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge.
It is important to remember that perseverance is key in obtaining Social Security Disability benefits. Appeals are available for each denial until a case is heard in federal court. To maximize your potential for early approval and to successfully handle the hearings and appeals, it is important to find skillful, experienced legal representation. To find out more, visit OklahomaCityLegalGroup.com.