we fight for the rights of the injured and disabled

How often do people need to appeal to get SSDI benefits?

People start contributing to Social Security as soon as they get their first jobs. Even part-time workers who only earn a few thousand dollars a year make payroll tax contributions to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Eventually, workers may make use of those contributions by claiming Social Security retirement benefits to supplement their personal savings. A smaller portion of the population may find themselves unable to work long before they reach retirement age. These individuals struggling with disabling medical conditions might decide to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

When successful, an SSDI benefits application will help someone obtain monthly payments that allow them to maintain their household. However, many applicants do not receive an approval letter but instead get rejected when they apply. Some of these applicants appeal. How many SSDI beneficiaries must appeal to get benefits?

Appeals are crucial for a minority of applicants

The SSA does not automatically agree with a worker who declares that they can no longer work. Applicants will need to have adequate medical evidence supporting their claim of a disabling medical condition. They will also need proof that the condition will last for at least 12 months for them to be eligible for benefits.

Some people who would theoretically qualify and get rejected at first have to appeal. Through the multiple stages of the appeals process, which include reconsideration and a hearing in front of an administrative law judge, they may eventually secure the benefits that they need.

Appealing can be a lengthy and frustrating process, but it is generally worthwhile. According to the data provided by the SSA on how it handled claims from 2010 to 2019, only 21% of applicants get benefits right away. However, the final approval rate for applicants is an average of 31%. Roughly 10% of all applicants or approximately a third of those approved for benefits get their benefits after appealing.

That alone would make an appeal worthwhile for someone too sick or injured to work. When people consider the value of backdated benefits, which will come in the form of a lump-sum payment at the time of their successful appeal, the usefulness of an appeal becomes quite apparent. Instead of reapplying or trying to make do with personal savings, many applicants would benefit from getting support and attempting to navigate the often challenging appeals process.

Learning more about SSDI approval rates and appeals may help people feel more confident when seeking the benefits they need. It may inspire others to seek legal guidance proactively so that they can have a better chance of obtaining benefits overall.

FindLaw Network