The Biggest Mistake in a Social Security Disability Claim may be...
In recent years, when I've written about social security disability and SSI disability claim denial rates, I've tended to cite 85% as the average rate of denial for claims. Numbers over time, of course, change. However, recent statistics released by the social security administration show that, nationwide, the rate of denial for reconsideration appeals is still about the same. Currently, it stands at 86%.
No surprise there. And it's no surprise to hear that individuals who have been denied for disability benefits overwhelmingly fail to take the next logical step, which is to file their first appeal, the request for reconsideration.
After all, as a disability examiner, I found it very obvious that a large number of claimants either A) never appealed their denied claim (this is the biggest mistake as I see it) or B)...somehow completely failed to understand that filing a new disability application is not the same thing as an appeal (in some cases, I've seen individuals file more than a dozen new claims--each one destined to be denied as each one before--instead of utilizing the much more productive appeal process that SSA affords claimants).
Few things serve to illustrate, however, like recent statistics. I owe this find to Gordon Gates, a social security disability attorney practicing in New England (Maine and New Hampshire), who posted the information on his blog.
In 2008, there were more than 2.5 million new disability claims filed with the social security administration. If 64 percent of those claims were denied, we should have seen well over a million first appeals, or requests for reconsideration, filed.
However, we didn't. We saw approximately 1,616,831 denied claims and yet only 546,599 reconsideration decisions were made. As Gordon Gates states, you have to consider the fact that there are ten states that do not utilize reconsiderations. Also, there would have been a number of reconsiderations filed in the preceding year and determined in 2008, as well as reconsiderations filed in 2008 and determined in 2009; however, it is easily safe to say that there were hundreds of thousands of claimants who were denied for disability...and did not, for whatever reason, choose to file their first available appeal, meaning that they also denied themselves the opportunity to get their case eventually heard by an administrative law judge at a disability hearing.
Why does this happen? As I've stated in other writings, there are claimants who seem to mistakenly conclude that the filing of a disability appeal is either synonymous with, or equivalent to, the filing of a disability appeal. Which, of course, is a mistaken assumption that will, typically, lead to yet another denial. However, there is undeniably a large number of claimants who simply choose to give up on their claim following the receipt of a notice of denial.
What is the biggest mistake on a social security disability claim? Arguably, the biggest mistake one can make is choosing not to pursue a denied claim through the social security administration's disability appeal process, at least as far as the disability hearing level, a level of appeal in which the majority of represented claimants do win their disability benefits.
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