Sunday, June 17, 2007

Is it possible to get disability approved at the reconsideration level ?

Yes, it is possible to get Social Security Disability or SSI Disability benefits approved at the reconsideration level. However, unfortunately, the odds tends to go against disability claimants at this stage of the process.

How bad are the odds? According to recent-year statistics, in Mississippi, 92.9 percent of reconsiderations were lost. In California, the statistic was 80.7 percent, for Texas it was 84.2 percent, for New York it was 84.6 percent, for Florida it was 84.6 percent, for Illinois it was 87.1 percent, and for Georgia it was 83.4 percent----however, nationally, the percentage of social security disability and SSI disability claims lost at the reconsideration level was 84.9 percent (which is why I so often cite 85% as the average denial rate).

Why is this? Why do so many disability cases get denied at the reconsideration level? A disability examiner or someone who works for the social security administration might say "Isn't it obvious? Nothing changed medically between the time the disability application was denied and the time the reconsideration was filed".

And, to be honest, this is probably true in most cases, particularly since there is a quicker turn-around time on a social security reconsideration versus an application for disability.

What does this mean then? In my own opinion, it means two things. First, that reconsideration-level examiners are biased in the sense that, unless something is glaringly wrong with an initial claim examiner's decision, they will typically render a decision that, in effect, upholds the initial claim denial. Second, it says that initial claim examiners work in a system that is inherently biased against individuals who file for disability. And the proof of this lies in the fact that at least half of the claims that are heard by administrative law judges at disability hearings are approved.

Why the disconnect between the hearing level and the two prior levels of adjudication? In some cases, you can successfully make the point that a claimant's medical condition has changed, but that's only because the wait time for a disability hearing is so incredibly long. By and large, few individuals who operate in the system would argue with the notion that the system is simply biased against claimants at the levels preceding the hearing stage.

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Other Posts

Apply for disability - how do you
Apply for disability - what happens after disability is applied for
Social Security Disability Benefits