Social Security Disability Approval Rates

Since the onset of Social Security Disability in the 1950's the approval rates have varied at all stages of the process. Because the first to levels of the process are handled by each state agency, those approval rates vary from state to state. However, the national average currently of approvals at the application stage is about 30%. If you are denied at the application stage the next level of appeal is reconsideration which currently has an approval rate of about 18-20%. As one can see most applications are denied and the claimant ends up asking to see a judge.

Once a request for hearing has been filed, the case returns to the Social Security Administration to have a hearing scheduled with an Administrative Law Judge who only handles Social Security matters. The largest decline in approval rating over the last ten years has been at this hearing level. The current national rate of approval by the administrative law judges is 40-45% this is down from about 60% ten years ago. This rate is very judge specific with some judge approving as little as 10-15% of the cases they hear while others may approve 70% or more.

If a person is denied by the judge the next level of appeal is still within the Social Security venue. The Appeals Council will review the administrative judge's decision if an appeal is filed. The Appeals Council has been very consistent over the years in only reversing about 20% of the cases it reviews.

If denied by the Appeals Council the next step is to "sue" the Social Security Administration in the US District Court. This stage varies based, usually, based upon the competence of the person/attorney filing the complaint and the judge hearing the case. The average rate of getting the Social Security judge's decision overturned by the US District Court is usually about 40-50%. A Social Security disability denial can go up to the Circuit Court of Appeals and even to the Supreme Court of the United States depending on the issues involved.