FAQ: What are my chances of winning my disability case?
A: This is an impossible question to answer with certainty because of the number of factors that go into the decision. These factors include, but are not limited to: your age, your education, your work history, your type of disabilities, your earnings record, the medical evidence submitted in support of the claim, and the Administrative Law Judge assigned to your claim. That being said, I like to tell my clients, “I would not have taken your case if I did not think there was some way of winning it.” This is because I do not earn a fee unless the claimant is granted benefits.
All that being said, you may be interested in the following statistics and data points to evaluate your chance of winning. There are several valuable resources on the web to research your Administrative Law Judge’s approval rate. Below are some of these resources:
1. Social Security’s own ALJ Disposition Data.
If you go to http://www.ssa.gov/appeals/DataSets/03_ALJ_Disposition_Data.html, Social Security provides you with the “disposition data” for all Administrative Law Judges “ALJ”s across the country. This data includes the following information for each Judge:
- ODAR Assignment (the ALJ’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review office, or home office);
- Dispositions (the number of decisions the ALJ has issued);
- Total ALJ Dispositions Across All Offices (the ALJ may have issued decisions in another jurisdiction or office)
- Decisions (number of decisions issued)
- Awards (number of cased that were granted, or won)
- Denials (number of cases that were denied)
- Fully Favorable (number of wins where the claimant won every issue or argument)
- Partially Favorable (number of wins where the claimant won, but only some of the issues)
In short, if you know the name of the Judge assigned to your claim, you can determine your exact “chance” of winning.
For Mobile, Dothan, Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach, and other cities in Northwest Florida and Southern Alabama, The ODAR you should review is for Mobile, Alabama. This ODAR covers our area.
2. These statistics were prepared by the Social Security Office of Disability Program Management Information (SSA ODPMI) on November 10, 2010 for Fiscal Year 2010. Here are the statistics for FY2010:
- There were 3,045,135 applications for disability. 35% of the applications were allowed; 65% were denied.
- Only 719, 270 of the approximately 1,979,338 that were denied filed the first appeal called a Request for Reconsideration. Of these, only 13% were allowed benefits. 87% continued to be denied.
- 619,887 claimants filed a second appeal requesting a hearing before and Administrative Law Judge. Of these, 62% were allowed; 13% were dismissed; and 25% were denied.
- Of those that continued to be denied, 83,008 claimants filed a third appeal with the Appeals Council. Of these, only 2% were allowed; 2% were dismissed; 22% were remanded or returned to the judge for further consideration; and 74% continued to be denied.
- 12,143 of those denied by the Appeals Council filed a federal lawsuit against The Commissioner for the Social Security Administration in a United States District Court. Of these, only 4% were allowed; 9% were denied; 47% were remanded for further consideration; and 40% were denied.
The above statistics are for all claims nationwide. The next document lists the Allowance Rates at the Initial and Reconsideration Adjudicative Level for Fiscal Year 2010 by Nation, Region and State. As you can see, 32.7% of all claims are approved at the initial application stage; 67.3% are denied at this stage. And only 13.1% of claims are approved at the reconsideration stage (the first appeal); 86.9% are denied:
3. You can visit www.disabilityjudges.com for statistics about hearing offices and judges that have already been computed for you. You can search by the Judge’s name for statistics about that individual judge. Or you can click the Select a State button to try and find a judge or an ODAR office by State.