One of the most common questions I receive is, “What are the chances of winning my disability case?” I usually quote the odds in general terms but I decided to look for the statistics and report them in this post. The Social Security Administration publishes a pamphlet with all the statistics included called, “Outcomes of Applications for Disability Benefits.” If you click on the link, you will find the publication. This is the latest available (2012).
The statistics are fairly dismal in terms of the denial rate, as any Social Security Disability attorney could probably tell you. Looking at the statistics for cases at which the only issues are medical ones, at the initial level, 71% of the cases are denied. At the reconsideration level, 92% of the cases are denied.
The statistics drastically change one an applicant appears in front of an administrative law judge. At that point, only 40% are denied. Or another way to say it, 60% of the cases are approved.
There may be many factors why more cases are granted at the hearing level. Such factors may include the hiring of an attorney. Once an attorney is hired, the attorney will work to document the case, update the records and seek out treating source opinions. Or, the higher approval rate may also be due to the fact that the judge sees you and can judge your credibility. Finally, another reason for the change in statistics is that the judge has read the evidence and is required to justify a decision supporting his or her ideas.
These statistics tell me that it is important not give up! The odds get better when you appeal. And for most people, it will require a hearing in front of a judge.
I will be giving a free workshop tomorrow, Wednesday May 22, 2013 at the Global Center for Success in Vallejo on navigating through the Social Security Disability application process. I will be covering the following topics:
- Overview of the application process
- What you need to know before applying for Social Security Disability
- Tips on how to obtain evidence to help your case
- The differences between SSDI and SSI
- SSI resource limit
- Statistics on approval and denial rates
- Procedures for appealing
The workshop is open to the public and will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. For more information, please see the attached Flyer.
Now that we are well into summer I thought I would highlight an item that people with disabilities may obtain to enjoy the national parks for free. This item is called an “Access Pass.” This is a lifetime pass that is available to permanent residents or U.S. Citizens of the United States who have been medically determined to have a permanent disability.
A permanent disability (for the purpose of obtaining this pass) is a permanent physical, mental, or sensory impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.
Proving permanent disability for an Access Pass seems to be easier than proving it to obtain Social Security, understandably. In order to prove disability, you may submit:
- A statement by a licensed physician;
- Document issued by Federal agency such as the Veteran’s Administration, Social Security Disability Income, or Supplemental Security Income;
- Document issued by a State agency such as a vocational rehabilitation agency.
An Access Pass allows the holder and guests (those accompanying the holder in one vehicle, up to an additional three people), free entrance into the national park as well as discounts on expanded amenity fees such as swimming, boat launching, and guided tours.
There is a $10.00 fee to obtain the Access Pass but it is good for life.
Even with our government’s current budget problems, it is nice to know that people with disabilities are given the opportunity to enjoy our parks for free. For more information about the Access Pass, go to the website for the National Parks and Federal Recreation Land Pass.