Our clients often ask us “when will my claim be awarded?” The answer depends on many different factors, and no representative can predict the future with certainty.
However, we want our clients to understand the general statistical odds of winning a disability claim. The Social Security Administration keeps track of the number of claims awarded, denied, and dismissed at each level of review. The attached chart illustrates these numbers for 2014.
The Social Security Administration has four levels of administrative review. The initial level of review is immediately after you first apply. The reconsideration level occurs after you file an appeal within 60 days of your initial denial. The hearing level is when you have appealed your reconsideration denial and you appear in person before an Administrative Law Judge. The Appeals Council is the final stage of administrative review conducted by the Social Security Administration. You may file a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration in Federal Court if the Appeals Council denies your claim for disability benefits.
You can see from the attached flow chart that the majority of claimants are denied disability benefits. In general, only about one-third of applicants are awarded at the initial level of review. Only 11% of claimants who appeal their initial denial are awarded at the reconsideration level of review. Less than half of claimants who appear before an Administrative Law Judge are awarded, and the Appeals Council sides with the claimant on roughly 15% of appeals. Note that almost 45% of claims filed against the Social Security Administration in Federal Court are either won or remanded for an another disability hearing. However, only a very small percentage of claims are filed in Federal Court due to the time, cost, and complexity of litigation.
The overall odds are not favorable for a claimant who files a claim for Social Security Disability benefits. These statistics should encourage all applicants to find competent attorney representation in their geographical area.