Some new information came out recently about how many Social Security disability applicants get approved at each level of the process. According to
what Social Security calls their "waterfall chart," the chances of Social Security approving you are very small. This is notably true for two appeals in particular.
The 13% Solution
If Social Security denies your initial application (which they will) you are forced to file a so-called Request For Reconsideration (RFR). I always suspected that this level of appeal was designed for nothing more than delay. An RFR slows an applicant down by 3-4 months, at least. And what are a Social Security disability applicant's chances of getting her RFR approved? 13%
13% Beats 9%
Say you get an unfavorable decision from an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and decide to appeal that. The odds that the Appeals Council is going to send your case back for another hearing? Try 9%. Less than one in ten. It makes an RFR look like a slam dunk in comparison.
When you have two levels of appeal that are coming in at between 87% and 91% denials, that stops looking like a real appeal at all. It starts to look like a parlor trick. It starts to look like a con.
Something Is Wrong
These appalling numbers demonstrate that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way in which Social Security is handling disability claims.
The delay is bad enough. But the waterfall chart shows that something even worse could be happening. Remember that an ALJ has recently asserted that Social Security is pressuring judges to deny cases. There is no way to know for sure if this allegation is true. But, it sure seems more likely in light of these new numbers.
What do you think? A fair shake or a shakedown? Let me know.