The Elder and Disability Law Firm, APC
Why appealing a disability denial is important
When Californians apply for disability benefits and are denied, they may wonder about their next steps forward. Some may want to file a new claim; however, it's generally better to file an appeal and move forward in the process. Approximately 65 percent of all disability claims are denied at the initial application stage. This means that one of the most important aspects of pursuing an approval is to move ahead with an appeal.
People who file a new claim for Social Security Disability Insurance instead are unlikely to find improved chances of success. The claim would return to the same agency and probably face the same determination, even if the case is assigned to a different individual examiner. However, while appealing is strongly in most applicants' interest, the first stage of the appeals process may provide little relief. At the reconsideration appeals stage, 85 percent of claims are denied, and the decisions generally reiterate the reasoning of the initial denial.
Even though the reversal rate is low at this stage, it is an important bridge to the next stage in the process -- a hearing before a federal administrative law judge. This kind of hearing has much more positive results. Administrative law judges approve over 60 percent of the claims they hear if the applicant is represented by a disability attorney or other representative. Unrepresented claimants, on the other hand, have a success rate of around 40 percent.
Because administrative law judges have more leeway in their decisions, they are more likely to make a positive determination. At the same time, having representation can be critical in making a successful claim for SSDI benefits at a disability hearing. A disability lawyer can help an applicant craft a successful benefits claim or appeal.