Friday, September 07, 2007

Why are denial rates so high at application and reonsideration?

Denial rates are significantly higher for Social Security Disability and SSI claims at application and reconsideration than they are at the hearing stage. In this post I will give my opinion as to why this is the case. Many people who apply often do so with out help of a lawyer and with out learning what they have to prove to win. Many people simply give the information to SSA and let SSA get the medical records and develop the case. There appears to be the attitude that I will see what happens and if I am denied I will get help with my claim. This leads to an underdeveloped file that is not ready for a decision and frequently results in a denial. At reconsideration which SSA is slowly getting rid of it is usually the same information being looked at by a different SSA employee. This is why reconsideration has such a high denial rate. If the information in the file was not enough the first go around chances are it won't be for the next SSA employee either. The denial rate decreases at the hearing level for several reasons. A greater percentage of the cases are represented by a lawyer or representative and the file has had more time to be developed properly. You also have the advantage of seeing an ALJ in person which adds a human element to the case and allows for testimony to point out things that the record by itself simply can not do. Many people come to me at hearing most of those files are extremely underdeveloped files. So if you do decide to do it alone make sure to become as knowledgeable as you can so that you know what you need and can get the information to win early.