What are my chances of being approved?
Every applicant for Social Security benefits asks this question. The answer is not simple, but it may help to understand the rates at which applications are approved at the first two stages. Many applicants also compare their condition to others who are receiving disability and the process that person went through to get benefits. The important thing to remember is that each application is considered on a case by case basis. Simply because you have the same diagnosis as someone else does not mean that the outcome of your case will be the same as theirs.
There are three key levels for applications are (1) Initial Application, (2) Reconsideration and (3) Hearing before an ALJ. At each level the applicant has the opportunity to provide additional information regarding treatment, symptoms, restrictions, limitations and conditions. The Hearing level is considered the best opportunity for approval.
In 2006, the National average for approved applications at the initial level is about 35%. At the Reconsideration level, about 13% of applications are approved. Wisconsin’s approval rate at the initial level is slightly below the national average at 33%. The reconsideration level is approved at about 13% in Wisconsin.
At a hearing level, an Administrative Law Judge has the opportunity not only to review your medical records and read your submitted forms but also to listen to your story first hand and assess your credibility. The ALJ can observe your behavior and ask questions about your daily life and work history. This in person interaction is beneficial because it puts a face to the name and brings to life the complaints of the applicant.
While the approval rates at the first two levels seem dismal, there is a much greater approval rate at the hearing level. Applicants should retain counsel and appear at the hearing in order to increase the chances of approval.