Unlike Social Security retirement benefits, which are accessible to a large portion of the working population, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are only an option for those with severe, debilitating medical conditions.
Many people have never looked into the program and don’t know anyone who has qualified for SSDI benefits. Most of what people know about SSDI benefits is, therefore, secondhand information, myths or hearsay. For example, many people have heard the myth that everyone gets rejected when they first apply or that every applicant has to appeal to get benefits. While it is true that quite a few SSDI applicants do not get benefits, not everyone gets rejected initially. How many people do need to appeal in order to have a shot at receiving benefits?
A large percentage of applicants face denial initially
There is a seed of truth to the claim that SSDI rejections are incredibly common. According to information provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA) about the outcome of claims each year, the organization rejects roughly four out of five applicants during the initial application stage.
When looking at data gathered between 2010 and 2019, an average of 21% of applicants got benefits shortly after applying. Many others only have the option of appealing if they still want to pursue benefits. They may need to correct mistakes in their paperwork or gather more medical evidence.
According to data from those same years, the final approval rate for SSDI benefits is approximately 31% each year. In other words, 10% of applicants obtain their benefits during the appeals process. The first stage of appeal, reconsideration, only results in 2% of applicants getting benefits, but roughly 8% of applicants may secure benefits during a hearing in front of an administrative law judge as part of an SSDI appeal.
Particularly when it seems like a minor technical mistake or a lack of medical evidence has caused a claim denial, applicants may benefit from pursuing an appeal. Understanding the likelihood of approval and the impact an appeal may have can potentially give people the motivation they need to seek the benefits they require. Seeking legal guidance is also generally critical in this regard.