Below we will look at the chances of getting a claim for disability benefits approved at the 3 levels or stages of the SSDI application process.

STAGE 1: Initial Application Level

The first level or stage in the SSA disability claim process is the initial application level. Getting approved at the initial application level means that you submit a disability claim form to the SSA and that claim is approved without any further appeal. Unfortunately, the chances of getting a disability claim approved at this initial application stage are very low.

Only about 30 percent of all SSDI claims are approved at the initial application level. This means that 7 out of every 10 disability claims are initially denied by the SSA. The 30% of claims that do get approval at the initial application stage are usually those claims that fall into one of the SSA’s list of presumptive impairments. These are usually claimants who have clear and obvious disabilities where there is no question about their ability to work.

STAGE 2: Reconsideration Stage

The second level in the SSA disability claim application process is called the reconsideration stage. When a claim is denied after the initial application, the claimant can request a reconsideration of the denial. Reconsideration simply involves having a different individual claims examiner at SSA take another look at your application and the original denial. The new claims examiner can then see if anything should be changed and issue a new decision.

The chances of success at the claim reconsideration level are extremely low. Only 13% of SSDI claim denials are reversed on reconsideration. So you have a 1 out of 10 chance of getting approved on reconsideration. What can be even more frustrating is that the reconsideration stage often takes months and there is no clear time frame or deadline for when the decision will be made.

STAGE 3: Hearing Stage

The third level of appeal in a disability claim (after an unsuccessful reconsideration stage) is known as the hearing stage. In the hearing stage, the SSDI claim is fully reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who makes an independent determination as to whether the claimant qualifies for benefits.

The hearing stage offers the highest changes of success for disability claims. Around 47% of all claims are successful at the hearing level. The chances of success at this stage are even higher for claimants who are represented by an attorney.